US (dir. Joel Bergvall & Simon Sandquist)
Cast: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Lee Pace, Chelah Horsdal, Michael Landes, William B. Davis
Synopsis: A woman’s life is thrown into chaos after a freak car accident sends her husband and brother-in-law into comas. Thrills arrive after the brother-in-law wakes up, thinking he’s his brother.
Review: “Possession” is a film that just barely slides into horror territory. Despite a pretty eerie looking, ghoulish creature on the film’s poster (who doesn’t even factor into the movie at all) and the title of the film (which was altered from “Addicted” over the course of post-production), there isn’t really much that makes “Possession” your standard horror movie. It’s definitely more of a thriller with a slight horror twist, and in fact, the original Korean film upon which it was based, “Addicted”, was more of a psychological drama than anything else. In effect, what we have here is clever marketing conducted so as to make a thriller, which is seemingly about a case of possession, into a horror film by putting a creepy looking ghoul on the movie poster and boasting about an executive producer from such remakes as “The Ring” and “The Grudge”.
I was excited to see this film when I first heard about it almost two years ago because the trailer really did look fantastic, but I begin losing interest when it became increasingly difficult to find it on DVD or anywhere for that matter. Apparently the production company responsible for the film went bankrupt and as a result, the film was missing in action for awhile. Luckily, it eventually became available and I could finally see one of my favorite actresses, Sarah Michelle Gellar in what would be her first horror movie in almost four years.
As is almost always the case with horror movies, and generally all movies really, I was sold after watching the trailer. It really did seem like a great little dramatic horror flick with an intriguing story and an interesting premise: what if someone you loved died, but their soul managed to live on in the body of someone else? Sure it’s not the most plausible premise, but it brings up some interesting points about love, sharing a life with someone you love, and dealing with the “death” of a loved one. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t really attempt to flesh out any of this, and instead succumbs almost entirely to making itself your standard thriller about a man obsessing over an emotionally vulnerable woman (complete with requisite end-of-movie chase/fight scene).
“Possession” is the story of a recently married couple, Ryan and Jess, basking in their love while being under the unfortunate shadow of Ryan’s troubled brother, Roman, who is living in their house while on probation. Ryan is the atypical perfect husband. Whether he is preparing anniversary cakes, decking out his backyard in thousands of tiny lights, picking roses for Jess out of the garden he keeps up, or writing detailed love letters, Ryan seems to have his Casanova game down pat when it comes to romancing his wife. In fact, for the short amount of time he is seen in the movie (conscious) he is constantly laying the romance on thick to the point where it’s almost a touch nauseating and mildly ironic since the one day that he really brings his romance A-game will be the last day he will spend with his wife.
Usually it’s the man that forgets these kinds of things. Not Mr. Perfect in “Possession”, however!
Really? The whole backyard? Geez…
It gets a touch cheesy when we get a shot of Ryan sculpting Jess’s head out of a stone block… like come on! Who does this?!
Laying it on a little thick there, huh?
Roman on the other hand, is the atypical bad boy: tattoos, muscle car, criminal record for assault, probation violations, and a penchant for decorating his room as if he were a 16 year old boy who just discovered rock/metal music. Both brothers are presented as outright extremes: one being an unbelievably perfect husband, the other being an unbelievably stereotypical rock music-loving bad boy from hell (and a Nine Inch Nails fan to boot! A sure sign of evil!). As fate would have it, the two brothers end up in a horrible car accident when their vehicles collide head on with each other (bizarre coincidence, but whatever, I’ll accept it as part of the story). Both end up in comas, and only the bad brother, Roman, ends up coming out of it – but with the memories, thoughts and personality of the good brother, Ryan.
At first, Jess refuses to accept the possibility of her husband’s soul possessing the body of her brother-in-law. Her mourning is so deep and her vulnerability so present that she actually begins to believe, but not so much out of desperation really, that Ryan’s soul in now within Roman. You’d think she would be pretty adverse to go so far as to sleep with Roman, but guess what? She does! And gets knocked up in the process! I hope she didn’t think Roman’s sperm was possessed by Ryan as well, because she will be in for a shock when the baby turns out to not only look like Roman, but act like him too when he/she hits there teenage years.
There’s a big twist where you find out what the supposedly “possessed” Roman’s real deal is (spoiler alert – he’s faking being possessed because he is infatuated with Jess), and he gets in a big scuffle with Jess before she is rescued by the somewhat supernatural influence of her comatose husband. We don’t really find out what happens with Jess and her unborn baby, and we don’t even find out what happens with Ryan either. In somewhat of a flash back scene, we find out Roman murdered his ex-girlfriend after coming out of his coma, but no details are given and we are just left with assumptions. Roman’s ability to take on Ryan’s memories is explained when it is revealed he has been reading Ryan’s highly detailed love letters to Jess and studying photographs of their relationship (somewhat realistic, but somewhat unrealistic because it is unlikely that every single memory shared between Jess and Ryan was written down in a love letter or captured in a photograph).
Now while “Possession” isn’t the best movie about a psychopathic, obsessive stalker and his ability to dupe a vulnerable woman, it’s got a great story and an interesting premise. The film flows quite well, but it lacks some of the creepiness and tension present in the original Korean film. There are a lot of touching scenes in the film and a handful of grab-a-Kleenex-and-let-the-tears-flow moments, but the film ultimately fails at being a horror movie, mainly because the Roman character isn’t as psychopathic as can be (if he was, it would give away his motives too early in the movie and ruin the twist). “Possession” is an enjoyable film, but it is severely lacking in the scares which were virtually absent from the original film – something it should have developed more strongly. The ending is so damn terrible, it’s actually both wince-worthy and majorly embarrassing. The more emotionally heavy ending in the original film should have been upheld so as to really get a rise out of the audience.