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The Possession Spooks on and off screen

Samantha Rina
Sunday, December 23, 2012

EVER watched a film that's left you breaking out in a cold sweat, apprehensive and struggling to breathe? I like to call that the combined reaction of a good horror film.

I speak for myself — there's nothing I find more thrilling than watching a good supernatural horror movie late at night, especially when I'm left struggling to contain the screams that clog my throat.

But the best part about the entire horror experience as far as I am concerned is how it leaves its "victim" unable to sleep and so fearful that the events in the movie just might take shape in real life if they so much as dare to shut their eyes! This effect usually wears off over a few days yet for some people, it can traumatise them for weeks so horror films are definitely not for the faint-hearted.

Call it freaky, weird or just plain crazy but this fascination with supernatural horror has also left me asking myself about why I feel such a magnetic pull towards it especially when I find myself going through the experiences above.

After the Exorcism of Emily Rose thrill in 2006, I had begun to believe that was the last horror thrill I'd ever get to experience.

And then there was The Possession. Based on true events, this movie tells the story of a girl who becomes possessed after coming into contact with a ritual box known as a dybbuk.

I was compelled to do a bit of internet research, and let me tell you, this movie was spooky in every sense of the word, on and off-screen.

Starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Clyde) and Kyra Sedgwick (Stephanie) who are parents to two teenage daughters, the film shows how the family tries to move on in the wake of the recent divorce between the couple.

Misfortune suddenly befalls them when the younger daughter Emily, played by Natasha Calis, takes interest in an engraved box at a yard sale and her father agrees to buy it.

Opening the box seems near impossible but in a sudden twist, Emily is able to open it and finds in it many items including a lock of hair, a ring, a dead moth and a tooth.

She wears the ring and satisfied that she's able to open the box, goes to sleep with it in her arms. She later wakes to the sound of whispering coming from the box. Soon after her attitude begins to change to the point where she attacks her father with a fork during a meal and violently beats a male classmate who attempts to open the box in school.

Her change in behaviour is initially believed to be the result of her parents' divorce but when things take a turn for the worst, Clyde finally believes his daughter's obsession with the box is responsible for the change in her.

He seeks expert help regarding the box and is directed to a group of Jewish men who are reluctant to help after seeing the box and being told that his daughter had opened the box. However one of the Jewish brothers steps forward to help in an attempt to redeem himself.

He successfully delivers Emily but not after a struggle and a lesson for the family that they need to work together to get Emily back.

Without giving it all away, I suggest you watch the movie to find out more about the juicy bits of the story and how it really ends.

Now for the spooks off-screen, following the making of the movie, director Ole Bornedal revealed that eerie things occurred during the shooting of the film.

"Some really weird things happened. I've never stood underneath a neon light before that wasn't lit, that all of a sudden exploded," says the man who admitted that he was drawn to the script, having seen it as more of an allegory for divorce than as a horror film.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, lead actor Morgan also recalls weird happenings on set including lights exploding midtake and feeling cold bursts of wind on a closed, not drafty set.

"It always happened in the middle of doing key scenes," he recalls. "It didn't happen in between takes or doing scenes that didn't have a big story impact."

But the "trump card" or creepiest incident came after filming at a storage facility in Vancouver.

"We had all of our props a couple of days after we finished wrapping — they put everything in storage for if you're gonna do reshoots or anything," says Morgan.

"It burnt to the ground. It was investigated, and there were no signs of arson, no electrical fire."

Among the key props destroyed in the fire: the imitation dybbuk box used during filming. Spooky or not? You be the judge.

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