The Possession (2012)

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Released 6-Feb-2013

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror / Thriller Trailer-x 3 but not for this film
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2012
Running Time 90:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Ole Bornedal

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Natasha Calis
Kyra Sedgwick
Jay Brazeau
Madison Davenport
Case ?
RPI ? Music Anton Sanko

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Divorced father Clyde (Jeffery Dean Morgan) has his two daughters Hannah (Madison Davenport) and Em (Natasha Calis) for the weekend. At a garage sale Em buys an antique wooden box with Hebrew script on the side. At home she discovers how to open the box, and finds some very odd looking artefacts inside. Almost immediately, she begins to feel strange, and in the days that follow she becomes distracted, uninterested, and disturbingly violent. Clyde and his ex-wife Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick) at first think that Em is reacting to their divorce, but as strange events proliferate, and Em’s violence escalates, Clyde starts to believe that something evil is inhabiting his daughter. Em is very possessive of the antique box, and Clyde discovers that it had been built by Jews in Poland to contain a dibbuk, a malevolent demon that possesses and ultimately devours its innocent human host. Clyde turns to the Jewish community in New York for help; together they must find a way to exorcise the demon before Em is completely lost.

     The initial screen of The Possession states that the film is based upon the true story. This seems rather fantastical, but for those who would like to follow it further, the end titles indicate that the basis of the film was the article Jinx in a Box by Leslie Gornstein. Leaving the veracity of the claim aside and considering The Possession purely as a film, there is a lot to like. It is a supernatural horror film that mostly delivers.

     The Possession is not set up as a mystery: the audience sees at the start that “the box” is evil when it possesses an older woman with disastrous consequences. As such the film does not need a reveal or explanation in the last reel to make sense of the events, something that can undermine some horror / supernatural films, when the reveal makes little sense. Rather, in The Possession the audience knows far more than the characters, and it is more a case of watching the demon take possession of Em while her parents struggle to understand what is happening. Even as the truth starts to emerge, and it becomes a race to find a solution, the film retains a reality, takes no easy paths, builds tension and is genuinely scary. The ending is consistent with what has gone before, and disturbing.

     The Possession has a tight, interesting script, and it is extremely well served by the small cast especially Natasha Calis who does a brilliant job bringing Em to the screen: she is innocent and sweet, but also manages to pull off the violence and malevolence of the demon possession in a believable way. Jeffery Dean Morgan is also very good as the confused and loving father, struggling to come to terms with his failed relationship with his ex, and her new male friend, while trying to remain connected with his two daughters.

     Comparison with the Exorcist is obvious and The Possession certainly includes a number of references to that film, with a Jewish exorcism replacing a Catholic one. On the whole The Possession is less brutal, the situations more low key. Once one accepts the premise of The Possession, the film flows in a realistic and logical way. If at times the musical score by Anton Sanko can be a bit obvious at singling intensions, the film builds tension gradually, throwing in some scares and intense moments. It is well made, well-constructed and well-acted, with characters that are realistic and believable, acting in a realistic way. This film does not rely upon people doing stupid things for its scares, or its conclusion. It is well worth seeing for fans of the genre.

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Transfer Quality


     The Possession is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, the original theatrical ratio being 2.35:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.

     The Possession looks sharp and nicely detailed. Colours are on the muted side, with browns dominating, but they look natural. Blacks are solid and shadow detail very good, skin tones natural, or deliberately unnatural as Em’s skin becomes very pale. Brightness and contrast are consistent.

     The print has occasional shimmer on mottled surfaces (such as the brown grass at 16:21) and aliasing (the stripes at 48:13) but these are infrequent. Grain is not an issue and marks and artefacts are otherwise absent. There was some flicker in the end titles.

     English subtitles for the hearing impaired are available.

     A natural, good looking print.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     Audio is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track at 448 Kbps, plus an audio description track for the vision impaired spoken by a male voice.

     The sound design is good. Dialogue was clear, centred and easy to understand. A lot of the film is quiet, with dialogue in domestic settings, but in the possession sequences the audio ramps up, with music and thuds as bodies are thrown about. The sound design is also effective when the soft, ephemeral voice of the demon occurs. Otherwise the surrounds were not overused except for music and some ambient sound. I did not notice any specific directional effects however the audio was effective enough. The subwoofer supported the music and some crashes and effects.

     The original music by Anton Sanko was sometimes obvious in signalling events, but was generally fine in adding tension to scenes.

     Lip synchronisation is fine.

     The audio track was fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


     Trailers for House at the End of the Street,Red Dawn and 600 V/H/S (total time 6:01) play on start-up and must be skipped. They cannot be selected from the menu.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Region 1 US release of The Possession includes two audio commentaries (director Ole Bornedal on one and writers Juliet Snowden and Stiles White on the other), a featurette entitled “The Real History of the Dibbuk Box” and a theatrical trailer. The Region 2 UK version is listed as the uncut version: for an indication of changes see: here. However I cannot see if the UK version includes any extras. In either case, both look better than our Region 4 which lacks extras and appears to be the theatrical version.


     The Possession is well made, well-constructed and well-acted, with characters that are realistic and believable. It is a supernatural horror film that mostly delivers and is well worth seeing for fans of the genre.

     The video and audio are good. Unfortunately we miss out on the extensive extras available in Region 1 and the longer cut in Region 2.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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