I hate to be stereotypical with this review, but when Em asks her mother in the third act “Who am I?!” I think that this one scene encapsulates the entire film.
Puberty is a monster. Even for the best of us it tears us up and turns the world inside out. The sudden realization that life is not nearly as innocent as what we’ve been told it is brings about a lot of darkness and a fair amount of terror. Throw in a divorce and you have a whole mess of problems for a young psyche to take on.
The Possession is a horror film that’s about the changes that life brings as much as it is about the central possession-related story line (as a side note, I’ve always liked what Sam Raimi has done with infernal/demonic imagery, and I do appreciate a possession film revolving around a dybbuk as opposed to the horror-traditional Catholic style demonology). I’ve read a fair number of reviews on this piece that seem slightly grumpy in relation to the fact that this is a family drama wrapped up with a demonic cover; I’m not sure that it’s a fair criticism if only because I’m not convinced that this is a weakness. I’m not sure that mundane themes are inherently less tense just because they’re mundane.
Near the beginning of the film Hannah tells Em that perhaps she would be happier if she would just learn to not give a shit. It’s a paraphrase, but not a severe one, and perhaps this is the central message to the film. While it’s harder for a child to learn to separate from life’s problems it’s not entirely true that adulthood brings about peace and tranquility-just ask Clyde.
Frankly, I’ve always liked the way that Raimi’s horror pieces look. There are some truly beautiful scenes in this movie and ‘feels’ right’; the tone and timing are almost spot on in every scene. While the end of the exorcism comes suddenly, there’s a few really intense images presented within it. I liked the talking goat in Drag Me to Hell more, but this was just a nice horror piece to look at.
Though I really wish Raimi would get over his love affair with the collision/jump scare combination.