The Possession Blu-ray Review

Matt Hough

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Matt Hough
XenForo Template Ever since the phenomenal success of The Exorcist, studios have been wanting to find another really great story of demonic possession. There have been some successes down through the years, but nothing that has begun to approach the worldwide acclaim and popularity of one of William Friedkin’s best-known works. Ole Bornedal’s The Possession is no more than a run-of-the-mill attempt to plumb the same territory, only this time with a Jewish spirit and ritual as opposed to the Catholic-based traditions of the earlier film. The movie features very good actors doing the best they can with really second-rate material.

The Possession (Blu-ray + Digital Copy) Directed by Ole Bornedal Studio: Lionsgate Year: 2012 Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 1080p AVC codec Running Time: 92 minutes Rating: PG-13 Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish Subtitles:  English, SDH, Spanish

Region: A MSRP: $ 39.99

Release Date: January 15, 2013

Review Date: January 11, 2013

The Film

2.5/5 When Em (Natasha Calis) begs her father Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) to buy her an interesting wooden box at a yard sale, little does anyone in the family know that it’s a dibbuk, an ancient Jewish receptacle holding an evil, dislocated spirit who’s longing to find the body of an unspoiled vessel to inhabit. As Em’s temperament begins to vary wildly, her mother (Kyra Sedgwick) and her dentist boy friend Brett (Grant Show) don’t know where to turn, but Clyde consults a professor at his school who sends him to a Hasidic part of New York to find a rabbi (Matisyahu) who may have some help to offer. If you’ve seen The Exorcist, you pretty much know the sequence of events: the possessed child begins exhibiting peculiar behavior that begins escalating in the level of intensity and violence until the adults must turn to outside forces for help. The fun comes from the representations in the real world of the evil spirit’s power, and here despite a rather slow and methodical build-up, director Ole Bornedal stages a couple of creepily arresting sequences featuring a roomful of moths and a dentist’s teeth falling out as well as some supernatural illusions of someone or something crawling around inside of the poor preteen (an MRI screen is especially effective). It’s irritating, however, that no one seems to notice that the stricken child has started wearing an oversized ring on her middle finger which is leaving an alarming-looking black shadow emanating out from it through her hand and such sloppy continuity problems as a fork through the hand (Em’s first real sign of aggression against her father) that leaves no sustained injury and is unbelievably forgotten about. The fact that the exorcism is Jewish-based rather than Catholic-based is not enough of a new twist to convince us we're seeing something refreshingly different. The producers are incredibly lucky to have found Natasha Calis to play the possessed child. She’s completely believable as the young girl (she has a marvelous early bonding scene with her father as they tell stories with hand shadows) and as the venomous spirit out to make her possession permanent. Jeffrey Dean Morgan is also very effective as the divorced father at wit’s end trying anything he can think of to find some answers and rescue his beloved daughter. Kyra Sedgwick has less to do as the short-tempered and demanding mother though there is one impressive scene in a kitchen littered with broken glass as she tries to get control of her child. Madison Davenport as the snarky older sister plays it rather by the book, and Grant Show does likewise as the new man of the house. Matisyahu is quite excellent as the rabbi’s son, the only one willing to confront the devil one-on-one.

Video Quality

5/5 The film’s theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 is faithfully delivered in this 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. It’s a reference quality transfer with superb contrast that allows sharpness to be exemplary and colors throughout to be true without ever seeming overdone or unrealistic. Flesh tones are especially apt. Black levels are deeply rich and inky, and shadow detail is most impressive. The film has been divided into 24 chapters.

Audio Quality

4/5 The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix is rather subdued though much of the film. The front soundstage is more forcefully dealt with with the rears offering only momentarily placed sound effects on occasion. Anton Sanko’s music gets a nice spread across the front and uses the bass in the LFE channel to good effect but only gets infrequent echoes into the rear channels. Dialogue is always discernible and has been placed in the center channel.

Special Features

2.5/5 There are two audio commentaries. The more interesting of the pair features husband and wife writing team Juliet Snowden and Stiles White who, like director Ole Bornedal in his commentary track, basically tells the story as we go along, only Snowden and White do dot their comments with some other facts about their writing process. Bornedal’s track is rather sluggish and uninteresting. “The Real History of the Dibbuk Box” is a 13 ¼-minute series of interviews with several owners of a real dibbuk box and the negative experiences they had in dealing with it (which is what the writers of the screenplay based their story on). It’s in 1080p. The theatrical trailer runs 2 ½ minutes in 1080p. There are 1080p promo trailers for Texas Chainsaw 3D, The Last Exorcism, and The Haunting in Connecticut. There are also enclosed instructions and a code number for downloading a digital copy of the movie.

In Conclusion

3/5 (not an average) Good acting and some passable suspense sequences are the only noteworthy elements in The Possession. The Blu-ray does offer a beautifully realized picture and good sound, but the story follows the expected downs and ups of possession stories without adding much that’s fresh to the genre. Matt Hough Charlotte, NC

 

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