Admittedly, films of this nature are always a tough bet with me since The Exorcist is my favorite horror film and the one that set the bar for this subject matter in the first place.
Produced by Sam Raimi, the script is based on a supposedly true story of a family who experienced a demonic possession with their daughter over a period of 29 days. The events in the film portray the steps of the possession and the exorcism that followed. The writing is well done and has a strength and conviction to it thanks to the delivery of a mostly strong cast. The way the story plays out is gratifying and has a little curve ball thrown at you at just the right time.
It’s lacking in terms of originality to be sure, nothing we haven’t seen before to some degree. Many of the visual effects are really well done and there are some genuinely creepy moments but nothing that I would classify as shocking or terribly frightening (I’m a bit de-sensitized though, just FYI). I think that’s where it also falls flat because there are parts of the film that just feel and look fake. Such as the episode with Emily in the yard; she looked more like a kid trying poorly to be goth moreso than someone possessed.
The actors mostly put in some great performances, especially Jeffrey Dean Morgan as the father and Natasha Calls as Emily. Kyra Sedgwick plays the mom well and I love the surprise of Matisyahu as Tzadok, nice touch. The only weak link in the chain is Jay Brazeau who’s performance as the professor comes off cartoonish and a bit over-the-top to the point of distraction.
If you’ve seen The Exorcist you may understand where I’m coming from when I say this film lacks the intensity and realism of the classic, but if you haven’t seen The Exorcist, check out The Possession before you become de-sensitized like me!
reviewed by Sean McKnight