The Possession – USA, 2011 – reviews

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‘Darkness lives inside’

The Possession is a 2011 American supernatural horror feature film directed by Ole Bornedal (Nightwatch) from a screenplay by Juliet Snowden and Stiles White, “based on a true story”. It was co-produced by Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead).


In an interview for Shock Till You Drop, Bornedal stated that he was drawn to The Possessions script, having seen it as more of an allegory for divorce than as a true horror film

The Possession - 6

Main cast:

Natasha Calis, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kyra Sedgwick, Grant Show, Madison Davenport
and Matisyahu.


A newly separated couple Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Stephanie Brenek (Kyra Sedgwick) live in different homes. After Clyde picks up their two children, Emily “Em” (Natasha Calis) and Hannah (Madison Davenport), for the weekend, they stop at a yard sale where Em becomes intrigued by an old wooden box that has Hebrew letters engraved on it. Clyde buys the box for Em, and they later find that there seems no way to open it.


That night, Em hears whispering coming from the box. She is able to open it, and finds a tooth, a dead moth, a wooden figurine, and a ring, which she begins to wear. Nw, possessed by a dybbuk, Em becomes solitary, and her behaviour becomes increasingly sinister…

Reviews [click links to read more]:

“The scene where he goes mano a mano with the dybbuk will remind lots of people of Max von Sydow’s face to face with a demon in The Exorcist. Comparisons can be made with Linda Blair’s suffering in that film, and Natasha Calis’ tortured performance here. Fair enough. The Exorcist has influenced a lot of films, and this is one of the better ones.”

“While director Ole Bornedal’s horror is unlikely to win over many viewers, it’s certainly not an awful film (here’s looking at you, The Apparition).  There are more than a handful of unintentional laughs to be had, though.  A little girl giving you a stern stare from the yard isn’t haunting anymore, it’s just awkward.  That said, The Possession does manage to deliver a handful of decent scares and legitimately creepy moments that might even give you the chills.” Gregg Katzman, IGN


” … director Ole Bornedal doesn’t add a single idea of his own, cribbing the movie’s eerie lighting schemes from David Fincher (Zodiac), its hyperrealist mise-en-scene from Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In), and, most predictably, its disquieting intimacy from William Friedkin’s The Exorcist.” Ben Sachs, Chicago Reader


“Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Kyra Sedgwick are fine as the parents of a girl (Natasha Calis) inhabited by an evil dibbuk released from an old wooden box, and Calis is appropriately creepy as that increasingly malevolent kid. Still, the scary bits are too familiar: It seems clichés are non-denominational.” Keith Staskiewicz, Entertainment Weekly


Buy DVD:

” … director Ole Bornedal has a fine, if too precious, visual sense. Bornedal repeatedly uses an aerial establishing device which he freely admits in his commentary is supposed to give the viewer the idea that “someone—or something—is watching us”, and while that’s kind of silly, there are some genuine scares scattered throughout the film…” Jeffrey Kauffman,

“Unlike the often tongue-in-cheek approach of some Raimi-produced horror movies, The Possession takes itself very seriously and moviegoers looking for a unique or unrelenting scare fest will likely be underwhelmed. However, compelling leading actors and mostly engaging characters elevate the The Possession above some of its exorcism movie contemporaries – resulting in a competent but unremarkable horror drama hybrid.” Ben Kendrick, Screen Rant


“It’s basically a standard possession film that has a rather predictable ending. All the while the father runs around in desperation, trying to find a way to help his little girl before something terrible happens. The furthest it gets in scares are the typical loud noises/bangs on the soundtrack…” Jeff Beck, We Got This Covered


Cast and characters:

  • Jeffrey Dean Morgan … Clyde
  • Kyra Sedgwick … Stephanie
  • Natasha Calis … Em
  • Madison Davenport … Hannah
  • Matisyahu … Tzadok
  • Grant Show … Brett
  • Rob LaBelle … Russell
  • Nana Gbewonyo … Darius
  • Anna Hagan … Eleanor
  • Brenda Crichlow … Miss Shandy (as Brenda M. Crichlow)
  • Jay Brazeau … Professor McMannis
  • Iris Quinn … Doctor
  • Graeme Duffy … Lab Tech
  • David Hovan … Adan
  • Chris Shields … Assistant Coach
  • Adam Young … Preston
  • Jim Thorburn … First Responder
  • Quinn Lord … Student
  • Nimet Kanji … Nurse Patty
  • James Sullivan … Pest Control Guy (as James O’Sullivan)
  • Marilyn Norry … Principal
  • Armin Chaim Kornfeld … Rebbe ShahJohn Cassini … Stephanie’s Attorney
  • Josh Whyte … Player
  • Greg Rogers … Doctor Walterson
  • Agam Darshi … Court Representative
  • Jarett John … Moss
  • Tim Perez … Officer
  • Cameron Sprague … Abyzou
  • Jordan Stein … Hasidic Teen
  • Charles Siegel … Hasidic #1
  • Ari Solomon … Hasidic #2
  • Alex Bruhanski … Hasidic #3
  • Richard Newman … Hasidic #4
  • Robert Morrissette … Hasidic #5
  • Sol Pavony … Hasidic Rabbi
  • Erin Simms … Possessed Italian Girl
  • Frank Ferrucci … Italian Priest
  • Sharmaine Yeoh … Possessed Islamic Girl
  • Antoine Safi … Islamic Male Exorcist
  • Ned Bellamy … Trevor

Technical details:

92 minutes
Aspect ratio: 2.35: 1
Audio: Datasat | Dolby Digital | SDDS | DTS (5.1)


The Possession was belatedly released in the US on August 31, 2012, having premiered at the Film4 FrightFest in London.

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