Parents' Guide to

The Possession

By Jeffrey Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Demonically scary movie has low gore, strong characters.

Movie PG-13 2012 92 minutes
The Possession Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 11 parent reviews

age 15+

You do know this was NOT a true story right? Scary, but untrue.

I thought that as a horror movie in and of itself it stood up well on its own merits. There is obvious inspiration drawn from the original Exorcist movie but it exhibits them without simply copying the classic horror film. I felt that it managed to create an eerie atmosphere alongside a fair bit of tension without the usual tropes that tend border on (or dive headfirst into) camp when done poorly as is so often the case in this genre. Using just some moths (you'll see) and minimal special or practical effects this movie gives some definite chills better than most of the big budget cgi-laden jump-scare-a-thons on the big screen these days. Using some well shot scenes of stark, relatively empty locations such as the parking lot of a storage facility at night and the half completed housing development where the girls spend the weekends with their father the movie manages to make the viewer feel the isolation that the characters are intended to find themselves in. A man struggling to reconcile his still evident feelings for the woman he has recently divorced, the child who says that they should "just try not giving a shit" as a method of coping with their now broken family, and the young soon-to-be-possessed daughter who says she doesn't feel like she is herself anymore are all alone in this together. Each of them misunderstood and failing in their attempts to be heard or seen as they are instead of who they "should be" make at least one of them entirely relatable in some way to the viewer which is what I think gives this movie it's strength. That, and an incredible turn from the young actor Natasha Calis who portrays Emily 'Em' Brenek, For the first 15 minutes I felt she was standing out for reasons other than who her character was supposed to be but then that same quality that I thought was going to make me decidedly dislike her, was what made me riveted by her performance. She was at her best when there was no dialogue or other characters in her scenes. To be clear, I mean that she needed none to bolster her performance when most adult actors would fail under the same conditions to evoke any feeling from the viewer. My one issue is not even with the movie but the ridiculous belief of some commenters, and even a great number of professional critics who fall prey to the belief that this is somehow "Based on a True Story". That is complete nonsense as the Dybbuk Box and it's "history" were both created by a furniture restoration artist and ASPIRING WRITER in 2003 to up his eBay cred and profit margin when he sold it online. There has never been and never will be a real Dybbuk Box. It's a hoax. But I loved The Blair Witch Project too and wasn't sure for MONTHS if it was real or not when it came out. But it was a lot harder than doing a simple Google search to find the truth back in '99 too so...
1 person found this helpful.
age 13+


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 fit and doesn't add to the atmosphere. The pot is boring and uninspired. The story is riddled with pacing issues. I watch a lot of horror films and I found this far from scary. There is some blood and violence. A bit of body horror. But pretty tame compared to most modern horror.
1 person found this helpful.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (11):
Kids say (23):

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.

Movie Details

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