The Possession REVIEW

The Possession DVD review: Doesn’t think outside the box.

The Possession.

On the plus side, since she became possessed her Moonwalking was amazing.

2012 | 15 | 90 minutes | £19.99 (DVD)/£24.99 (Blu-ray)
Distributor: Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Director: Ole Bornedal
Cast:Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Natasha Calis, Kyra Sedgwick, Madison Davenport

Could you get a more unimaginative title for a film about a girl inhabited by a demon than The Possession? Possibly, but unfortunately The Exorcist was already taken. As were all the original ideas.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays Clyde, divorced father of two young girls. When ten-year-old Em buys an antique box at a yard sale, she unwittingly unleashes a Dybbuk, a “dislocated spirit” from Jewish folklore. As it whispers to her, Em’s behaviour becomes increasingly Linda Blair-loopy.

The Possession is a perfectly professional piece of work. Adequate. Acceptable. Fine. Writers Juliet Snowden and Stiles White do a good job of sketching out the characters and their connections, in particular the strained relationship between Clyde and his ex-wife. Indeed, their minor domestic tragedy almost threatens to overshadow the demonic possession.

But it’s a massive waste of time for anyone who’s seen an exorcism movie before. There are a couple of creepy sights – fingers scrabbling up Em’s throat; a skull-like face on an MRI scan – but it’s not a film that will haunt you for days. Well, unless you have a phobia about moths, which, for some inexplicable reason, provide half the scares.

The only aspect that feels remotely fresh is the way the film draws on a different religious tradition. As Clyde journeys through the predictable stages, from alarm and incomprehension to fervent belief, the story beats are all so blandly familiar that there are no real surprises. When the expected finale arrives, the fact that this particular exorcist has curly sideburns and a kippah isn’t much compensation. A pointless exorcise.


Two commentaries (by the director and the writers) and a featurette on the Dibbuk Box (13 minutes). Both formats feature an Uncut Edition, boasting a couple of minutes of additional timewasting.

Ian Berriman

For an alternative perspective, read our The Possession review from the theatrical release.
Read more of our DVD reviews.