The Movie Waffler New Release Review - The Possession | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - The Possession

Directed by: Ole Bornedal
Starring: Natasha Calis, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kyra Sedgwick, Matisyahu, Grant Show, Madison Davenport

After purchasing a wooden box at a yard sale, Morgan's ten year old daughter Calis becomes possessed by a Dybbuk, a spirit from Jewish folklore.
How do you breath new life into the exorcism sub-genre? You give it a Hebrew twist seemingly. A Jewish exorcist sounds a bit too much like a Jackie Mason routine but it's played with a straight face here. We've become accustomed to seeing rappers in horror movies and here we are introduced to Matisyahu, who apparently is the world's most successful Hassidic rap star. To be fair, he's actually quite a likable screen presence which is possibly a first for rappers turned thesps.
The director of this, Bornedal, impressed me in the mid-nineties with his debut "Nightwatch", an atmospheric Danish thriller. He remade it in the U.S and changed things just enough to warrant the adaptation. I recommend both versions. Since then he's fallen completely off my radar so when I saw his name attached here my curiosity was peaked. It's far from a glorious comeback, formulaic for the most part. The one nice idea was to set the action in a ghost estate, a clever recession era updating of the thriving eighties' suburb of "Poltergeist".
Calis is impressive as the young victim of the Dybbuk, a creature from Hebrew folklore which is basically the Jewish take on the Native American Manitou. Not only does it possess you but it physically manifests itself inside your body, eventually escaping through your mouth. Seventies schlock-meister William Girdler made a really fun version of this tale with "The Manitou". This film borrows heavily from Girdler's, even down to it's hospital set climax. What it lacks is the entertainment value of the seventies film which knew how ridiculous it's premise was and played to it's strengths. With it's stark tone this resembles one of the lesser episodes of "The X-Files".
The Dybbuk is trapped in a box by it's previous owners who, in a dodgy piece of Jewish stereotyping, sell it on rather than just throwing it away. I suggest you behave in a similarly frugal manner and don't spend your money on this snoozefest.