The Possession (PG-13, 91 minutes): I don’t like zombie movies. They’ve become too mainstream. Zombies, intent on eating your brains, slowly lumber toward you. You break out a shotgun. Boom. You’ve knocked off one. If you’ve seen one zombie apocalypse, you’ve seen them all.
I say this because that’s what is becoming of exorcism. Too mainstream. Possessed people get raccoon eyes, say mean things, then start hurling other people around the room. You break out a priest or rabbi. Boom. You’ve repossessed their soul. If you’ve seen one exorcism scene, you’ve seen them all.
And that’s my beef with The Possession. It has a Jewish-themed approach, but it does nothing to move the needle in regard to exorcism. It’s the same M.O. that Linda Blair used nearly 40 years ago with The Exorcist, except without the pea soup, cool 360-degree head turn and curse words.
Based on a true story, there is nothing out of the box about The Possession — which is ironic, because this version is all about a box.
The story starts with Emily, an innocent 11-year-old little girl, picking up the strange box (a dybbuk) with Hebrew writing on it at a yard sale. She becomes fixated with the box and her parents are left to wonder what the heck is going on when she starts acting all weird and junk.
Her father Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who played the masked Comedian in Watchmen) and mother Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer and Mrs. Kevin Bacon) become concerned when they run out of reasons to blame Em’s behavior on their separation.
At that point, The Possession telegraphs every exorcism move in the genre. Dad has to seek spiritual help (from a Hasidic community in Brooklyn) and secures the services of Tzadok (played by Matisyahu, a Hasidic reggae artist; his “One Day” video has 10.4 million views). Mom buys the whole story after a donnybrook with Em in the kitchen.
From there, you’ve got moths, lots of moths, a creepy MRI scan, demon rage that would make Chuck Norris proud, a dark morgue, screaming, reboxed demon, more screaming, Kyra Sedgwick tramp stamp, peaceful afterglow, truck vs. car.
And, of course, an ambiguous end. All textbook exorcism.
BEST TIME FOR A BATHROOM BREAK: Runpee.com recommends right after the teacher goes flying through the school window.
TAKE THE KIDS: Sure. It’s not really that scary. And, believe it or not, not a curse word was uttered in the whole movie, except for those movie-goers who were expecting more. In fact, if you want to save time and a few bucks, have everyone watch the trailer. All the major parts are in it.
DATE MOVIE? If you want to scare your date, this is not the movie. Like I said, all the scenes are telegraphed. Too textbook to be effective.