The Toast | The Possession

It’s almost Halloween and that means a large amount of horror movies to be released in the next month. Who doesn’t like a good scare to get into the holiday spirit? I know I do, and I went and saw The Possession to start off what will inevitably turn into a month-long horror movie marathon.

What immediately attracted me to the movie was Sam Raimi being attached to it. The last major movie horror movie fans got to see Raimi work on was Drag me to Hell (which FYI, is totally worth a watch). The film is also advertised “Based on a True Story.” Most of the time, when horror movies have this label on them, they’re really not that interesting, but with Raimi attached as a producer to the film, I had some hope for it and gave it a shot.

If you haven’t caught on yet, the film is about a possession and yes POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT there is an exorcism, but if you’re waiting for an elderly Catholic Priest to come walking into the family’s home, you’ll be waiting a while. The story is set around divorced couple Clyde (Jeffery Dean Morgan) and Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick) as they try to navigate their way through split custody of their children Hannah (Madison Davenport) and Em (Natasha Calis).

During a weekend together, Clyde and the two girls pass a garage sale where Em is captivated by a locked box with Hebrew written on it. Clyde ends up buying it for her, promising he’ll get it open for her, but had he known the dark history of this box, he wouldn’t be putting himself and his family in danger by taking it home with them.

After Em finally gets the box open, her behavior becomes very strange and she is attached to the box in an incredibly unhealthy way. She becomes pale, aggressive and violent. Clyde has no idea how to handle this situation.

Clyde ends up bringing the box to a professor at the college that Clyde works at. While the movie never specifically mentions what the professor’s specialty is, one can only imagine it has something to do with religion, because he translates the Hebrew on the box. What he tells Clyde is the box is a dipic box, which is the Hebrew word for demon. The box is meant to trap the evil spirit inside and not to be opened afterwards. Ooops…

Clyde heads into a traditional Jewish village for help. When the elder men tell him it is too risky for them to take on the demon, a son of one of the elders, Tzadok says he will help. What shocked me was that this character was played by the musician Matisyahu. He’s not exactly the first person you think of when you’re casting a Jewish rabbi, but he brought a fresh, hip perspective to the role and did a fantastic job.

If you’ve seen one film about possession, you’ve seen them all, but The Possession is full of pleasant surprises. Most of the scares in this film were ones you would expect from a possession film, but what really saved this film was the casting, especially with the characters Em and  Tzadok. The exorcism scene is extremely physical and very intense. Those two movie newcomers (from what I understand, this is the first film for both) put everything they had into it, and it shows.

As I’ve said before, new scary films are hit or miss, they’re either great or they just suck. Luckily for me (and for other moviegoers), The Possession was a hit and worth a trip to the movies… just try not to jolt and spill your popcorn.

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