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By James Whittington, Tuesday 3rd February 2015
There have been countless “possession” movies released over the years and the genre seemed to peak with the unleashing of the box-office bursting films The Exorcist (1973) and The Omen (1976). Since then, the genre has come and gone with little fanfare or originality.
Grace: The Possession which has just been released onto DVD and Digital HD changes that as it’s a novel take on the genre with a devilishly clever twist as it tells its story through the eyes of the person who is possessed.
So I thought I’d go back and look at this genre and pick out my favourites in no particular order.
The Omen (1976)
Famous for David Warner losing his head and an Oscar winning score from Jerry Goldsmith, The Omen brought Damian to the cinema audience, The Antichrist who is adopted into the family of the US Ambassador to Great Britain played superbly by Gregory Peck. As Damian grows so do his powers, and with some people by his side, Damian begins to understand just how “special” he is. Directed by Richard Donner, the man who would help launch Superman and The Goonies onto the big screen, The Omen still retains its power thanks to some stunning camera work. One only has to think of Lee Remick’s fall from the staircase to appreciate Donner’s eye for a set-piece. The build up to that alone is a prime example of tension building. Like many horror movies it’s the music that plays an important role. Goldsmith’s piece Ave Satani, like Carpenter’s Halloween theme, would make the movie less of an event and relegate it into B-movie territory. As with most horror movies it was followed by a succession of sequels which continued Damian’s upbringing and journey into demonic manhood. I won’t bring myself to mention Omen IV: The Awakening (1991) and the remake from 2006.
The Exorcism Of Emily Rose (2005)
Tom Wilkinson helped bring this courtroom drama/horror from 2005 to life with a performance that takes the movie, based on a true story into a sympathetic yet uneasy place. Rev. Moore (Wilkinson) has been charged with the death of a young girl who was thought to have been possessed after he performs a church-sanctioned exorcism on her. We follow his court case through the eyes of Erin Bruner (Laura Linney) his defending Lawyer and as the case progresses she begins to feel there’s more to this than just the possibility of murder. Written and directed by Scott Derrickson (the man behind the superior paranormal hit Sinister) cranks up the unease through flashbacks to the build-up of that fateful night, allowing the story to attack the senses from different directions. This is a great film that’s worth checking out.
The Exorcist III (1990)
Cruelly over-looked by many, this third entry into The Exorcist franchise (for that’s what it had become) is a brilliantly executed shocker with a stunning central performance from George C. Scott, and contains plenty of stunning visuals that stay with you for some time after the film has ended. Directed and written by William Peter Blatty (the man behind the original book on which The Exorcist was based) it follows Lieutenant Kinderman (Scott) who is after The Gemini Killer but his lack of faith is tested when he encounters unbelievable and unexplainable events. Stylishly shot with an uneasy tone, The Exorcist III is played totally straight with Scott being the central peg everything else revolves around. Anyone who has seen this will fail to forget the hospital sequence which matches even the original for superb tension building. Another often forgotten sequel.
The Last Exorcism (2010)
Taking the found footage genre to possession movies territory, this full on shocker from director Daniel Stamm mixes the two genres seamlessly and delivers a movie that at first seems tame but contains a cracking pay off. A documentary crew arrive in a small town to film a Minister perform what he says is his last Exorcism and though obviously a fake, it turns out that there’s more to this final Exorcism than meets the eye. With the added drama of being seen through the camera crew, the film contains an uneasy and though a sequel soon followed, it lacked the impact of the original and how could you top the original’s ballsy ending anyway?
The Possession (2012)
One of the more recent demonic movies, The Possession proves that films don’t have to be packed with gore or bloody set-pieces to get their uneasy messages across. A girl buys a mysterious box in a lawn sale and all seems well, but the box contains an ancient and very angry spirit. From the opening sequence, The Possession is another smart shocker that brings the horror of demonic ownership very much into the real world. Ole Bornedal directs Jeffrey Dean Morgan with a confidence that allows the movie to organically grow and creep you out with smart camera trickery and score that steers clear of just being there for a cliché effect. Though the idea of a divorced parent is often over-used in horror movies it’s only here to show how much Clyde (Morgan) actually loves his family and when his young girl exudes bizarre behaviour you actually feel for his confusion and the blame he lays on himself for the situation.
Grace: The Possession is available to buy on Digital HD and on DVD January 19 thanks to Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
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