Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times | Terms of Service | Privacy Policy
Times OC

Reel Critics: ‘Possession’ takes hold of emotions

Reel Critics: ‘Possession’ takes hold of emotions
Natasha Calis stars in “The Possession.”
(Diyah Pera, Daily Pilot)

The big hook for “The Possession” is that it is based on true events.

Inspired by an Los Angeles Times article “A jinx in a Box?” several years ago, this is a movie for those who like movies to make them slink down in the seats and cover their eyes.

Recently divorced Clyde and Stephanie (well played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Kyra Sedgwick) share custody of their two daughters. While scouting out a yard sale, youngest Emily (Natasha Calis) spies an old wooden box with curious carvings. She takes it back to Dad’s house and becomes quite obsessed with it, finds the secret lock and even takes it to bed with her. That’s pretty creepy in itself.

Emily begins to display strange behaviors, including stabbing Daddy’s hand with a fork at breakfast. Hey, if someone tried to snag my pancakes I’d act like one possessed, too.

“The Possession” is stylish and relatively bloodless for a horror flick, shot in moody earth tones and with soft music that adds nicely to the mounting tension.

This is an age-old story of evil forces preying upon the innocent. It’s not as chilling as “The Exorcist” but some images, like a houseful of moths and an MRI scan, will definitely make your skin crawl — and be grateful it’s only a movie.


‘Lawless’ follows plot rules

Many movies were made about 1920s gangsters and the illegal alcohol trade of the time. “Lawless” is based on the true story of a real family of rural bootleggers during Prohibition. They encounter deadly consequences when their successful operation draws the attention of government agents.

Guy Pearce earned his Oscar credentials in “L.A. Confidential” and “Memento.” He marches across the screen in “Lawless” as the dirty cop in charge of bringing down the illegal enterprise. He is joined by Gary Oldman and Shia LeBeouf playing the targets of his vicious raids. Jessica Chastain is the hot babe on the run who provides the love interest in this tale.

However, the real stars are set decorator Maria Nay and costume designer Margot Wilson (“The Thin Red Line”). Together their great production values recreate the true look and feel of hard times in Appalachia during the Depression. But the screenplay provides only predictable R-rated crime drama. The many fist fights, shoot-outs and bloody revenge scenes are very well staged. But they play out exactly as expected to fulfill the brutal standards of this genre.

SUSANNE PEREZ lives in Costa Mesa and is an executive assistant for a company in Irvine.

JOHN DEPKO is a retired senior investigator for the Orange County public defender’s office. He lives in Costa Mesa and works as a licensed private investigator.