The Possession is a 2012 American supernatural horror film directed by Ole Bornedal and produced by Sam Raimi, Robert Tapert, and J. R. Young, and written by Juliet Snowden and Stiles White. It stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kyra Sedgwick, Natasha Calis, Grant Show, Madison Davenport, and Matisyahu.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Ole Bornedal|
|Produced by||Sam Raimi|
J. R. Young
|Written by||Juliet Snowden|
|Starring||Jeffrey Dean Morgan|
|Music by||Anton Sanko|
|Edited by||Raph Adiao|
Ghost House Pictures
North Box Productions
|Box office||$78.5 million|
The film was shot in early 2011. Parts of the film were filmed at a former mental institution, Riverview Hospital in Coquitlam, British Columbia. It was released in the US on August 31, 2012, with the film premiering at the Film4 FrightFest and received mixed reviews from film critics. The story is based on the allegedly haunted dybbuk box. Bornedal cited films like The Exorcist as an inspiration, praising their subtlety.
A newly separated couple Clyde Brenek (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick) live in separate 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, and 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 during breakfast. That night, the house, especially Em's bedroom, 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 the 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 mysterious noises from the box, the teacher tries to open it, but a malevolent force, the dybbuk, murders her by violently throwing her out a window. Em tells Clyde about an invisible hag 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 she's hitting her, from Hannah's perspective it looks like her father actually does. Em flees the house, recovers the box and the dybbuk begins conversing with her in a strange language.
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 devil. Clyde enters Em's room and reads Psalm 91; a dark but invisible force throws the Tanakh across the room. Clyde then travels to a Hasidic community in Brooklyn and learns from a Jewish priest named Tzadok (Matisyahu) which means Wise Man, that the possession has three main stages; in the third stage, the dybbuk latches onto its human host, becoming one entity with it. The only way to defeat the dybbuk is to lock it back inside 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 MRI scans next to Em's heart. Clyde and Tzadok join the family at the hospital and attempt to conduct an exorcism. Em is taken to a room that has a tub full of water and a stretcher to keep Em stable during the exorcism. During the exorcism, the possessed 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 the dybbuk is passed from Em to him. Tzadok performs a successful exorcism; Abyzou emerges from Clyde and 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 some distance from the wreckage, and Abyzou's whispering is heard from it, the same Polish rhyme heard at the beginning of the film.
- Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Clyde Brenek
- Kyra Sedgwick as Stephanie Brenek
- Madison Davenport as Hannah Brenek
- Natasha Calis as Emily "Em" Brenek
- Grant Show as Brett
- Matisyahu as Tzadok Shapir
- Jay Brazeau as Professor McMannis
- Quinn Lord as Student
- 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 Abyzou
The film was shot in early 2011.
Bornedal stated that he was drawn to The Possession's script, having seen it as more of an allegory for divorce than as a true horror film. Actors Sedgwick and Morgan were brought in to play the Breneks; Morgan chose to participate after seeing Calis' audition tape. Parts of the movie were filmed at a former mental institution, Riverview Hospital in Coquitlam, British Columbia.
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: "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.'"
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.'"
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (November 2014)
The film has received mixed reviews from critics. It currently holds a rating of 39% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 97 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", based on scores from 26 critics.
The film ranked #1 in its opening weekend, taking in an estimated $17.7 million, and an estimated $21.3 million for the full Labor Day Weekend.
- 'Possession': What Is A Dibbuk Box? Bloody Disgusting
- Kaufman, Amy (30 August 2012). "'The Possession' will scare off competition over slow Labor Day" – via LA Times.
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- Film4 FrightFest unveils horror-filled lineup: 'Possession,' 'Chained,' 'Sinister' among screeners Chicago Tribune
- EXCL: Director & Cast Talk to Us About The Possession Shock Till You Drop
- (San Diego Comic-Con '12) 'The Possession' Director Ole Bornedal On Combining His Own Voice With The Ghosthouse Aesthetic Bloody Disgusting
- The text shows a fail of translation.The line is "שנועה לש עשרה התא הארת". It can be readable backwards as "תראה אתה הרשע של העונש", – Look, you are the evil of the punishment. Another try to fix the sentence: "אתה תראה את העונש של הרשע" – "You will see the punishment of the evil.". It fits Psalm 91:8 רַ֭ק בְּעֵינֶ֣יךָ תַבִּ֑יט וְשִׁלֻּמַ֖ת רְשָׁעִ֣ים תִּרְאֶֽה (From BibleGateway) LOOK ONLY WITH YOUR EYES AND SEE THE PAYMENT OF VILLAINS. More accurately, Psalm 91:8 in THE HOLY SCRIPTURES According to the Masoretic Text: A New Translation. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 5717-1956) is rendered, ONLY WITH THINE EYES SHALT THOU BEHOLD, AND SEE THE RECOMPENSE OF THE WICKED. The lines do not begin with "Look" because Psalm 91 praises the encompassing protection afforded by the Deity, as a preceding verse (91:4) states ...; HIS TRUTH IS A SHIELD and a buckler. The text on the box sides, "קוובד", is probably backwards of "דבווק", misspelling of "דיבוק" -- "Dybbuk". http://msc.wcdn.co.il/w/w-300/1347032-18.jpg
- "'The Possession' Stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Natasha Calis". bloody-disgusting.com.
- "'The Possession' Filmed at Eerie Locations for Full Effect". Toonari Post. July 2012. Archived from the original on October 29, 2012.
- Collis, Clark (August 3, 2012). "Little Box of Horrors". Entertainment Weekly. pp. 50–55.
- Lussenhop, Jessica (30 August 2012). "Devil's Wine Box: Missouri's tie to 'The Possession'". Riverfront Times.
- The Possession. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 11, 2019.
- The Possession. Metacritic.com.
- "Robert Ebert: Reviews: The Possession". Sun Times.
- Richard Roeper: Reviews: The Possession. REELZCHANNEL.
- "Weekend Report: 'The Possession' Leads Typically Quiet Labor Day - Box Office Mojo". boxofficemojo.com.