The Possession

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Possession Movie Poster Image
Popular with kids
Demonically scary movie has low gore, strong characters.
  • PG-13
  • 2012
  • 92 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 10 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 24 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Characters stand up against difficult odds, both practical and supernatural, to protect and save their loved ones.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The divorced parents appear to be working hard to get along and raise their children in the best possible way. They have their slip-ups, of course, but they keep trying.


Lots of scary scenes and creepy special effects, but relatively little gore. Eyeballs roll back in people's heads, a pair of fingers appear at the back of a girl's throat, and a hand is stabbed by a fork. A few trickles of blood are seen (from eyes and mouths). Two minor characters are beaten up and killed by invisible forces, though much of the beating occurs off screen. There's lots of screaming and crying, especially during the climactic exorcism scene. In one sequence, the demon makes it look and sound as if the father has slapped his daughter, though he really hasn't.


The wife has a new boyfriend, and there's some talk about it. She wears tight jeans during one sequence, and her extreme lower back (plus tattoo) is visible when she crouches down.


Infrequent language includes one use of "s--t," plus "hell," "damn," and "Jesus" (as an exclamation).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The father drinks a beer with his pizza.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Possession is a demon-possession horror movie that's supposedly "based on a true story." There's plenty of scary stuff and creepy special effects -- screaming, eyes rolling back in heads, etc. -- though relatively little gore. Two minor characters are beaten up by invisible forces, but a lot of the more brutal stuff happens off screen. A few trickles of blood are seen coming from eyes and mouths. Language is very infrequent and includes one use of "s--t." Sex isn't an issue, but the movie deals extensively with a divorced couple, one of whom is in a new relationship. An adult character drinks a beer in one scene.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byAwolf1347 May 29, 2021


The movie is well shot and the actors do a good job however it has many problems that kept me from enjoying it. The scares are ruined by music that in an odd fi... Continue reading
Adult Written byDaddio74 June 16, 2019

Yeah, it’s scary.

You know, I liked it. It was nice to see a
Possession/Exorcist movie with a Jewish perspective, and the unfortunate fact is, the awkwardness of the family dynam... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byalisonmendez January 20, 2019
This movie is really good and will keep you on your feet. Although it is pretty scary for the young kids and not sexual at all. I do recommend families to see t... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old October 20, 2020

What's the story?

Newly divorced dad Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) picks up his daughters -- the younger Em (Natasha Calis) and the older Hannah (Madison Davenport) -- to spend the weekend in his new house. They stop at a garage sale, and Em asks to buy a mysterious box. She finds a secret switch that opens it and discovers some odd things inside: a tooth, a dead moth, etc. Soon she starts acting strangely. As Em's behavior gets worse, it seems as though she's been taken over by something. The problem drives a deeper rift between Clyde and his ex-wife (Kyra Sedgwick), but Clyde isn't easily deterred: He'll do anything to help his daughter. He tracks down a rabbi, whose son (Matisyahu) volunteers to perform an exorcism. But is it too late to save Em?

Is it any good?

By now the demon possession movie is fairly familiar, and there aren't many variations on it, but THE POSSESSION is surprisingly above average for the genre. It's certainly much better than entries like The Devil Inside and The Rite. The Possession succeeds, firstly, with its strong characters; a good deal of time is spent establishing the emotional awkwardness and the reality of a divorce and how it affects the parents, the children, and even the mother's new boyfriend.

The movie also has a strong sense of style. Danish director Ole Bornedal, who previously directed a horror classic called Nightwatch (as well as its poorer American remake), uses sound to brilliant effect and also clamps down on gore, focusing instead on scary stuff. When the movie ramps up to its tense climax, the relationships between the characters count for as much, if not more, than the horrific elements. If the movie has a drawback, it's that it's not quite scary enough to satisfy hardcore horror hounds. But at least it's good.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about The Possession's violence. How much blood/gore is shown compared to other horror movies? Does that make the movie feel more or less intense?

  • Is the movie scary? What were the scariest parts? Why were they scary? Is The Possession scarier or less scary than other horror movies?

  • How does the movie handle/depict divorce? Does it seem realistic? How well or how badly is the family dealing with the situation?

  • Does the movie seem like a true story? What seems true, and what doesn't? How could you find out more about what really happened?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love scares

Themes & Topics

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