‘The Possession’

Grade: C

Rated: PG13

Opens today

Starring: Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Kyra Sedgwick

‘The Possession” is another horror flick that indolently allows the autopilot to navigate the whole story. Every formulaic plot point, hackneyed character, and obvious scare imaginable is reprocessed to produce this meandrous dullard of cliché. A long time ago, a supernatural thriller such as this might have prompted people to jump out of their seats. In an age where its getting harder and harder to frighten audiences though, “The Possession” is more likely to have people rolling their eyes. But what do you expect when the movie was written by the same hacks who brought us “Boogeyman?”

“The Possession” proclaims itself as a true story. So did “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “The Amityville Horror,” which, as we all know, were both totally accurate depictions of real life events. Jeffrey Dean Morgan is Clyde Brenek, a divorced basketball coach. His ex-wife is Stephanie, played by Kyra Sedgwick, who is now pursuing an uptight dentist named Brett. If you have any doubt that Clyde and Stephanie will rekindle their love by the end then you’ve clearly never seen a movie before.

The separated couple has a teenager named Hannah (Madison Davenport) and a 10-year-old named Emily (Natasha Calis). Clyde purchases a peculiar chest for Emily at a yard sale. When she opens the box though, Emily suddenly begins to develop violent behavior. Suspicious of the box’s activity, the concerned father takes it to a college professor who teaches a class on human possession. Oh yeah, because all universities have courses on this crucial subject. The professor tells Clyde that the box might have contained an evil spirit. Thus, the parent is sent to find a religious figure to exorcise the demon from his little girl. Does any of this sound a lot like a certain William Friedkin classic?

Director Ole Bornedal takes few changes, bombarding us with a ton of images that are more unintentionally funny than scary. What’s really grating is how Bornedal and Composer Anton Sanko repetitively play the same bland musical score throughout several sequences. It’s recommended that you bring a tall bottle of whisky if you should see “The Possession.” That way you can take a shot every time a scene is followed by a single key played on a piano.

The performances are the only redeemable aspect of this otherwise derivative material. Morgan and Sedgwick are earnestly convincing as two parents fearful for their little girl. Calis does a solid job as an innocent child fighting the menace inside. As strong as Calis is, she’s no Linda Blair and “The Possession” is no “Exorcist.” That masterpiece still holds up as a creepy, disturbing and terrifying picture even after 40 years.

“The Possession” won’t stick with audiences four minutes after they leave the theater.

• Ahwatukee native and Desert Vista graduate Nick Spake is a student at Arizona State University. He has been working as a film critic for five years, reviewing movies on his website, NICKPICKSFLICKS.com. Reach him at nspake@asu.edu.

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