The Possession is a 2012 supernatural horror film directed by Ole Bornedal, starring Natasha Calis, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kyra Sedgwick, Grant Show, Madison Davenport & Matisyahu.

Plot[edit | edit source]

Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about
the entire movie.

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 & finds a tooth, a dead moth, a wooden figurine and a ring which she begins to wear. Em becomes solitary, and her behavior becomes increasingly sinister; she stabs her father in the hand with a fork. The house becomes infested with moths.

At school, Em violently attacks a classmate when he takes her box, resulting in a meeting with Clyde, Stephanie, the principal, and teacher. Em's teacher recommends that she spend time away from the box, so it is left in the classroom.

That night, curious about the noises from the box, the teacher tries to open it, but a malevolent force, the dybbuk, throws her out a window and she dies. Em tells Clyde about an invisible woman who lives in her box who says that Em is "special". Alarmed by her behavior, Clyde attempts to dispose of the box.

During their next weekend at Clyde's, Emily gets progressively more upset with the disappearance of the box. She begins yelling at Clyde in the hall with Hannah watching in the back. The dybbuk seems to slap Em across the face. She begins yelling, asking why he's hitting her, from Hannah's perspective it looks he actually does. Em flees the house, recovers the box and begins conversing with the dybbuk.

Clyde takes the box to a university professor who tells him that it is a dybbuk box that dates back to the 1920s; it was used to contain a dybbuk, a dislocated spirit as powerful as a demon. Clyde enters Em's room and reads Psalm 91; a force hurls the Tanakh across the room.

Clyde then travels to a Hasidic community in Brooklyn and learns from a Jew named Tzadok (Matisyahu) that the possession has three main stages; in the third stage the dybbuk latches onto the host, becoming one entity with it.

The only way to defeat the dybbuk is to lock it back into the box via a forced ritual. Upon further examination on the box, Tzadok learns that the dybbuk's name is "Abyzou", or the "Taker of Children".

Em has a seizure and is taken to the hospital for an MRI. During the procedure, Stephanie and Hannah are horrified when they see the dybbuk's face in the images next to Em's heart. Clyde and Tzadok join the family at the hospital and attempt to conduct an exorcism. Where Em is taken to a room that has tub full of water and a stretcher to keep Em stable during the exorcism.

During the exorcism, Em attacks Tzadok. Clyde grabs Em from him, and Em runs out of the room. Clyde follows her out and finally finds her in the morgue where the lights are off. As he nears her, she starts to attack him. Clyde survives the attack, but he becomes possessed. Tzadok performs a successful exorcism; the dybbuk crawls back into the box.

The family is reunited with Clyde and Stephanie's love rekindled. Tzadok drives away with the box in Clyde's vehicle. The car is hit by a truck, killing him. The box lands safely from the wreckage and whispering is heard from it, the same Polish rhyme heard at the beginning of the film.

Cast[edit | edit source]

  • Natasha Calis as Emily "Em" Brenek
  • Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Clyde Brenek
  • Kyra Sedgwick as Stephanie Brenek
  • Madison Davenport as Hannah Brenek
  • Grant Show as Brett
  • Quinn Lord as Student
  • Matisyahu as Tzadok
  • Jay Brazeau as Professor McMannis
  • David Hovan as Rabbi Adan
  • Brenda Crichlow as Miss Shandy
  • Anna Hagan as Eleanor
  • Ella Wade as The Voice of the Dybbuk
  • Cameron Sprague as the Abyzou
  • Nana Gbewonyo as Darius

Production[edit | edit source]

Ole Bornedal stated that he was drawn to the movie‍ '​s script, having seen it as more of an allegory for divorce than as a true horror film.

Actors Kyra Sedgwick and Jeffrey Morgan were brought in to play the Breneks; Morgan chose to participate after seeing Natasha Calis' audition tape.

The movie was filmed in early 2011 and parts of the movie were filmed at a former mental institution, Riverview Hospital in Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada.

The owner of the dybbuk box, Jason Haxton offered to send it to producer Sam Raimi, who was both interested and reluctant.

Raimi laughingly told an Entertainment Weekly interviewer, "I didn't want anything to do with it. I'm scared of the thing".

He also told the interviewer that he was raised in a conservative Jewish home: "You don't hear about dybbuks when you go to synagogue. I know the demonic lore of The Exorcist. But what does my faith believe about demonic possession? ... The stories chilled me to the bone."

Jeffrey Dean Morgan felt similarly, saying, "In the research I did, I started getting creeped out. My girlfriend was like, 'Let's just make sure that we don't actually go near the real Dybbuk Box.'"

Screenwriter Juliet Snowden recalled it as well, saying, "We were like, 'Hell, no.' We don't want to see it. Don't send us a picture of it' ".

Director Ole Bornedal said, "Some really weird things happened. I've never stood underneath a neon light before that wasn't lit, that all of a sudden exploded. The worst thing was, five days after we wrapped the movie, all the props burned. This storage house in Vancouver burned down to the ground, and the fire department does not know the cause. I'm not a superstitious man, and I would like to say, 'Yeah, it's just a coincidence' ".

The movie was originally rated "R" by the MPAA for "violence, terror and disturbing images", but it was eventually edited to receive a "PG-13" rating for "mature thematic material involving violence and disturbing sequences".

Reception[edit | edit source]

Box Office[edit | edit source]

"The Possession" debuted at #1 at the box office, grossing $17,732,480 during its opening weekend. Domestically, it made $49,130,15.

In the foreign market, it grossed $36,315,921 and $85,446,075 worldwide. It closed in theaters on November 22, 2012 after 12 weeks in theaters.

Critical Reception[edit | edit source]

The movie has gotten mixed reviews from critics.

On Rotten Tomatoes, it was given an approval rating of 40% based on 90 reviews.

The general consensus states, "It may be based on a true story, but that doesn't excuse the way The Possession repeatedly falls back on hoary ghost movie clichés – or the unintentional laughs it provides."

On Metacritic, the film holds a score of 45/100, indicating "mixed or average reviews".

Roger Ebert gave the film 3½ stars, writing, "The Exorcist has influenced a lot of films, and [The Possession] is one of the better ones."

Richard Roeper also gave the movie a B+.

The Los Angeles Times called the movie "a better-than-most fright-time tale".

Lou Lumenick from the New York Post called it an "unremarkable and none-too-scary horror movie".

Accolades[edit | edit source]

2012 Key Art Awards

  • Print- Best Motion Poster (3rd place)

2013 Saturn Awards

  • Best DVD\Blu-Ray Release (nominated)

2013 Golden Trailer Awards

  • Best Horror (nominated)
  • Best Horror TV Spot (nominated)
  • Best Horror Poster (nominated)

Theatrical Trailer[edit | edit source]


The Possession Trailer

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