The Possession parents guide

The Possession Parent Guide

Perhaps suitable for older teens that enjoy this genre, "The Possession" is at least a reasonably well-crafted boo-pic.

Overall C+

Be careful what you buy at yard sales! After his daughter (Natasha Calis) purchases an antique box, the girl unwittingly unleashes a nasty spirit. Desperate to offer protection, her father (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) seeks help from his ex-wife (Kyra Sedgwick).

Release date August 31, 2012

Violence C
Sexual Content B+
Profanity B-
Substance Use B-

Why is The Possession rated PG-13? The MPAA rated The Possession PG-13 PG-13 for mature thematic material involving violence and disturbing sequences. (Appealed and reedited from an R rating.)

Run Time: 91 minutes

Official Movie Site

Parent Movie Review

Moments after the lights dim and the screen illuminates, we see the oft-abused phrase “BASED ON A TRUE STORY” written big and wide. My skeptical senses suddenly awaken. The tale unspools, beginning with what I call the “seed” scene. An unknown elderly woman carefully approaches a wooden box on her mantle. She reaches out to touch it (always a bad idea when scary music is playing) and is immediately sent into twisted contortions with blood oozing from her face.

Cut to a not-so-happy family—a divorced couple, Clyde and Stephanie (Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kyra Sedgwick), their two daughters Em and Hannah (Natasha Calis, Madison Davenport) and the recently single mom’s new boyfriend Brett (Grant Show). Clyde is picking up the girls for the weekend and after leaving his ex-wife’s home heads for the suburbs to show the kids his new digs. On the way they see a yard sale and decide to take a look. Em is immediately drawn to an odd wooden box with Hebrew inscriptions—the very same box that caused the elderly woman to break into hyper-yoga-itis. Of course Dad buys the oddity and they resume their merry journey.

Not surprisingly, strange things begin to happen. First Em’s personality goes from cute to dark, and black eye shadow becomes her makeup of choice. Then strange insects infiltrate the house. Dad finally detects the box may be a problem in Em’s life, so he takes it away. That doesn’t go so well and now even he is convinced the strange artifact contains something unworldly. Of course his former wife and her dentist friend think he’s an unfit father—that is until Brett discovers a whole new meaning for the term advanced gingivitis.

Although this film was edited from a previous “restricted” MPAA rating, it is surprisingly light in typical content issues. A half-dozen profanities include a scatological slang and a term of Christian deity. There is also a moment of sexual innuendo. Not surprisingly violence is the greatest concern with a few characters being deformed and contorted by an evil spirit, bodies slammed against walls and furniture, and a person eventually tossed to her death from a second-story window. Some of these depictions include blood effects.

As for the “truth” of this film, an antique Jewish wine cabinet that sold on eBay in 2004 is behind the assertion. According to the still active listing, the box is said to be haunted by a “dibbuk”. (This is a Hebrew term describing a “dislocated spirit that inhabits and ultimately devours its human host”—quoting from the movie’s official website.) The eBay account details the misfortunes that came to its owner after he purchased the wooden artifact at an estate sale. Since then other “possessors” have claimed similar bad outcomes.

Obviously for parents who don’t appreciate dabbling in such areas, this will be a movie to avoid. However it holds surprisingly solid performances, especially from it’s young cast members, an interesting musical score (that uses moments of silence to great benefit) and avoids employing continual violence and gore as a cheap scare tactic. Perhaps suitable for older teens that enjoy this genre, The Possession is at least a reasonably well-crafted boo-pic.

Directed by Ole Bornedal. Starring Natasha Calis, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kyra Sedgwick. Running time: 91 minutes. Theatrical release August 31, 2012. Updated

The Possession
Rating & Content Info

Why is The Possession rated PG-13? The Possession is rated PG-13 by the MPAA PG-13 for mature thematic material involving violence and disturbing sequences. (Appealed and reedited from an R rating.)

Violence: An evil spirit causes people to contort their bodies and damage themselves through self-inflicted injury. A woman is tossed about a room and has blood oozing from her eyes. Another woman has similar experiences and is eventually thrown to her death from a second-story window. A child is shown with facial disfigurement, and a foreign body is seen in the back of her throat. A hand appears from a characters mouth. The production includes frequent scary depictions, “jump” scenes and moments of peril. A character walks barefoot over a floor covered in broken glass. A large truck suddenly hits a car, and it is implied the vehicle’s one occupant has died.

Sexual Content: A man makes a veiled sexual remark to his ex-wife.

Language: The script includes a scatological slang, term of Christian deity and a few other mild profanities.

Drugs/Alcohol: A character drinks wine to relieve stress.

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The Possession Parents' Guide

How are music and sound used to enhance the “scare” effect? Are the sound techniques in this movie different from most other horror films? What aspects of this move are stereotypical for this genre?

A man by the name of Kevin Mannis was the original purchaser of what has become known as The Dibbuk Box. You can read his story here:

Home Video

The most recent home video release of The Possession movie is January 14, 2013. Here are some details…

Home Video Notes: The Possession

Release Date: 15 January 2013

The Possession releases to home video with the following extras:

- Audio commentary with director Ole Bornedal

- Audio commentary with writers Juliet Snowden and Stiles White

- “The Real History of the Dibbuk Box” featurette


Related home video titles:

A mysterious artifact is behind the unsettling evens in the movie The Box. Other characters accidentally release powerful entities in Aladdin and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.