THE POSSESSION (Ole Bornedal). 92 minutes. Some subtitles. Opens Friday (August 31). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NN
The Possession is a well-told but only mildly scary Exorcist knock-off with a couple of okay twists in its highly predictable story.
First, the heroic parent of the possessed child is not the mother, the genre norm, but the unhappily divorced father (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). This provides a psychological subtext for the increasingly hostile doings of the little girl (Natasha Calis) who's being taken over by a demon in a box. Second, the demon comes out of the Judaic, not Christian, tradition, which puts a different spin on the mandatory occult exposition and climactic exorcism.
Director Ole Bornedal achieves a couple of striking images, but the visual horror, both atmospheric and visceral, most often relies on the standard creeping camera and spooky music. That'll only take you so far when the camera is creeping up on a box.
The actors, including Kyra Sedgwick as the bitter mother, give solid but unspectacular performances.
If you like child-in-peril horror - and who doesn't? - you'd be better off renting last year's Clive Owen shocker, Intruders, which amps up the fear factor considerably, or go old-school with Lucio Fulci's The House By The Cemetery, which cranks it up to 11.