The Possession

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

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 19 reviews

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.

Violence

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.

Sex

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.

Language

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

Consumerism
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
Parent of an infant year old Written byLillian C. September 2, 2012

Good.

Good movie, enjoyable.
Adult Written bydavyborn September 4, 2012

Creepy horror film has decent tension, strong violence.

Well, here we are at the very end of the 2012 summer movie season. It's been a rather mediocre one, but that is not exactly to say that it hasn't been... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bymjmocha July 13, 2014

Great movie but creepy content

I think this movie wasn't very scary at all. It did have a few scenes that might scare a child under 13 but over all it is nothing compared to the other ho... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byAgeRestrictionUSA February 16, 2014

TERRIFYING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I only watched about 30 minutes, I turned it off after in one scene an old lady is trying to smash a cursed box when her face starts to decay and blood spewing... Continue reading

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

Themes & Topics

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