Let me be upfront here: if I didn’t receive a free press screening for this movie, I would have never watched it in theatres nor when it’ll get a Blu-Ray release.
Why? The first reason is the title. The Possession of Michael King, The Possession of Janet Moses, The Possession of Michael D., The Possession of David O’Reilly, Grace: The Possession… these are only a few recent examples of possession flicks that basically have the same title. What would you expect from a film titled like 2000 others before? The modern ‘the possession of’ is the carbon-copy of the ‘don’t’ titles from the 70s and 80s: when studios want to appeal to mass audiences, they use similar sounding titles that, personally, just put me off.
Secondly, this movie came out at the beginning of December, a month that’s like a tombstone to most horror films, at least the ones that are unrelated to Christmas. After Halloween, when generally the most anticipated horror flicks come out, November is when horror films that premiered at festivals throughout the year get released. December is for the leftovers. Obviously, I’m generalising here: a good movie can come out at any time of the year, but there’s a trend production companies try to follow.
With this out of the way, what’s The Possession of Hannah Grace about? And, more importantly, is it as bad as I expected?
In all fairness, the movie starts with an interesting concept: a troublesome exorcism spins out of control causing young Hannah Grace to pass away. Months later, while working the night shift at a hospital morgue in Boston, Megan Reed receives the girl’s disfigured corpse. What appears to be just a boring shift, soon turns into a nightmare for Megan as Hannah’s body proves to still be possessed by an evil entity.
Continue reading and check my final grade below…
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Despite the somewhat cool idea – and to answer my initial question – the movie falls very flat. Granted, The Possession of Hannah Grace is a tad bit better than I expected, mostly because the director (Diederik Van Rooijen) puts quite a lot of effort trying to replicate the vibe of Last Shift (2014) and The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2017). However, this film doesn’t reach the level of spookiness of Last Shift nor the inventive and good-looking cinematography of The Autopsy.
There isn’t a lot to say about The Possession of Hannah Grace: it’s one of those horror flicks that Hollywood scatters throughout the year, where characters, situations and dialogues feel copy-pasted from one another, to the point where it’s impossible to distinguish one of this flicks from the other.
As well, the scary moments (obviously jump-scares) are predictable and mediocre: the make-up on Hannah Grace’s corpse is very well-done, which makes it even more disappointing that the filmmakers couldn’t do anything really worth it with it.
Yet, the morgue has a few characters walking around that are only there to be killed and set up a couple of spooky scenes. They have no character to play nor lines of dialogue that make you think, even for one seconds, that they could be real people: in other words, suspension of disbelief is really hard to achieve when you don’t work enough on your script and protagonists. Nonetheless, I give credit where credit is due: the actress who plays Megan (Shay Mitchell) does a solid job at being constantly on the edge but still subdued enough in her reactions. Also, the filmmakers wrote a character for her (albeit simple and one-dimensional) so that she, at least, can be a tad bit relatable.
Besides the lead character, the director also does a pretty decent job at creating a dark, dreadful atmosphere – something that should be a given with horror cinema but that seems to be left out in many mainstream horror flicks, unfortunately. On the other hand, the unsettling tone is ruined by cheap scares and by the throwaway ending: without getting into spoilers, when the final showdown approaches, the camera starts to shake like the director is affected by epilepsy and you, as a viewer, can’t really make out what’s going on.
In the end, The Possession of Hannah Grace is your subpar, thirteen-in-a-dozen horror flick about evil entities and exorcisms. It had the potential to be a much better viewing experience, and it benefits from some features that make it slightly better than most PG-13, cookie-cutter Hollywood flicks: so, if you’re okay with that, I’d suggest to wait until the DVD is released and then check it out. I wouldn’t spend my money to see it in theatres but, ultimately, the choice is yours.
The Possession of Hannah Grace 4.5/10