The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Lionsgate - 2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 92 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, English, Spanish
Starring: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kyra Sedgwick, Natasha Calis, Madison Davenport
Directed by: Ole Bornedal
Music by: Anton Sanko
Written by: Juliet Snowden & Stiles White
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: January 15, 2013
Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Stephanie Brenek (Kyra Sedgwick) see little cause for alarm when their youngest daughter Em becomes oddly obsessed with an antique wooden box she purchased at a yard sale. But as Em's behavior becomes increasingly erratic, the couple fears the presence of a malevolent force in their midst, only to discover that the box was built to contain a Dibbuk, a dislocated spirit that inhabits and ultimately devours its human host.
I had the chance to check out The Possession during its theatrical release and came away liking it. The film opens by indicating that it is based on a true story which got a single eye brow raising reaction from me. I think that with horror films all we can ask is that it takes us over the threshold into its world and allows our imaginations to do the rest. Predominantly there is little variation in terms of concept when it comes to the demonic possession premise. The film’s opening is brief but effectively serves as the catalyst for the impending evil that lurks in a strange black box. What makes these films work is how effectively the characters draw you into the story.
Here the plot revolves around a family fractured by divorce. The parents have joint custody of their two daughters who primarily live with their mother and spend weekends with their father. The mother has begun to move on and the father struggles to maintain a connection with his daughters. Both parents love their children and the four of them strive to make the best of a difficult situation. Things go awry one weekend when the youngest daughter asks her father to buy her the now familiar black box which she sees while they are at a yard sale. From there things begin to escalate as her behavior is affected by what she unleashes from within the boxes confines.
What I found worked well in this story was the defining element found in the interaction between the parents, and more importantly the portrayal of the father/daughter (s) relationships. This lent an air of credibility to the proceedings as things development. At 90 minutes the pacing is spot on. There doesn’t appear to be any wasted time as the narrative builds, springing from the familial drama into the elements of suspense and horror while maintaining the underlying dramatic tone. As I alluded to earlier conceptually speaking there is nothing here to differentiate The Possession from its child possessed film brethren. It adheres to formula and clichéd supernatural references but works nonetheless thanks to likeable characters you care about and a decently creepy level of horror. I like the cast, especially young Natasha Calis and Jeffrey Dean Morgan who does a very good job in the role of Clyde, the father struggling to protect/save his daughter.
Does The Possession reinvent the genre? No, but it is a decent way to spend a rainy evening when you’re in the mood for a horror film with a little heart.
The rating is for mature thematic material involving violence and disturbing sequences.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
The Possession comes to Blu-ray from Lionsgate featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 31 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.6 Mbps.
This film’s visual style doesn’t lend itself to bright, high gloss imagery we sometimes associate with new release films coming to Blu-ray but this is a creative decision that doesn’t reflect negatively on its presentation. The video has a light veneer of grain that gives it a slightly gritty, film like quality that mirrors its theatrical presentation. Resolution is excellent as images are clearly rendered with appreciable detail and discerning nuance during close ups. The filtered chromatic range is purposefully limited to muted primary colors and softer secondary hues. That coupled with the drab lighting schemes and dark cinematography makes for a visually pallid but thematically affecting look. Skin tones among the cast don’t vary much but this goes hand in hand with the film’s purposeful look. Blacks are deep and shadow detail is crushed slightly which leaves some of the darker segments appearing less dimensional. I didn’t see any signs of compression related artifacts or extraneous video noise.
I think this is a well designed lossless audio presentation that plays well to the film’s thematic components. It effectively uses the entire sound field to elicit reaction to sounds emanating from differing vantage points based on the camera’s perspective (meaning the subject onscreen). The soundtrack is enhanced by rich clarity, punchy dynamics and robust bass that appropriately support the film’s elements of suspense/fright. Dialogue through the center channel is crystal clear and maintains a position of prominence within the front soundstage. The beautifully crafted music permeates the listening area with its light instrumentation and superlative tonal balance. This surround mix capably handles the subtle intricacies thrown at by this excellent soundtrack as it augments the enjoyment of this film.
- Audio commentary with director Ole Bornedal
- Audio commentary with writer’s Juliet Snowden & Stiles White
- (HD) “The real history of the Dibbuk Box” – 13 minute documentary
- (HD) Theatrical Trailer
- Digital Copy
- Ultraviolet Digital Copy
The Possession isn’t a conceptually original entry in the child-possession genre however it strikes the right chords and adds a heartwarming element that combined to make it well worth watching even this second time around. It comes to Blu-ray Disc from Lionsgate featuring faithful high definition video, excellent lossless sound quality and a light supplemental package that includes a pair of filmmaker audio commentaries and a documentary on a real life “Dibbuk” box. I enjoyed The Possession and recommend that you give it a spin on Blu-ray.
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