By Nikki Busalacchi
With a title like The Possession, little imagination is required to predict the plot and genre of this seemingly generic film. But Nazis and anti-Semites beware: this possession does set itself apart with one key element – a Jewish demon. (Yay, representation!)
Kicking off with a healthy dose of dramatic irony, viewers watch an old woman battle with an invisible force attached to a mysterious wooden box she keeps on her mantle. When it meets her ball-peen hammer with bone-crunching force, a flash-forward displays a divorced father, Clyde, (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) buying the same box for his ten year old daughter, Emily (Natasha Calis). As far as foreshadowing goes, this one hits the nail on the head; as the young girl passes the woman’s bedroom window, her shouts of warning from a full-body cast should have struck a cord with somebody…
As the plot progresses, Clyde and his ex-wife Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick) begin to realize that their daughter’s changing behavior and growing obsessions have less to do with the divorce and more to do with her “friend in the box.” Through a few leads, Clyde discovers that the the box is not only of Jewish origin, but contains a dybbuk named Abyzou – a fragmented, evil spirit that must inhabit a human host. After a desperate visit to the Brooklyn Hasidic community and rejection from most of the synagogue, one rabbi named Tzadok (played by Matisyahu, a real Jew and a rapper to boot) agrees to help Clyde, and offers his services for an exorcism.
In terms of exorcism movies, The Possession is pretty tame. More of a thriller than a jump-scare horror, this title poses no heart attack risk – that is, unless creepy crawlies get under your skin. While moths and eerie MRI scans accompany sporadic bleeding and ghoulish wind, adrenaline ran low throughout the film. Visually, however, this picture is beautifully developed; as Emily’s obsession with the box draws her further away from her friends and family, her wardrobe and appearance begin to fade into the same darkness as the theme of the film.
While one could argue that a supernatural film might be riddled with discrepancies to begin with, only one minor plot hole was obvious to me: on the way to help Emily, Tzadok discovers that the demon’s name is Abyzou. He translates this from Hebrew, and explains that it means “the taker of children.” However, in the final battle with the demon, a character – who is not a child – is briefly possessed by the same demon. Aside from this flub, however, no major questions remained unanswered. The film, which was released in 2012, leaves on a cliffhanger, though it’s uncertain whether the taker of children will return to claim another victim anytime soon.
Available on Amazon Video for $2.99 rental.