Monday, November 11, 2013


   Belated half written Halloween movie reviews abound! I have drafts just sitting around on reviews for Rosemary's Baby, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Curse of Chucky, and The Exorcist! However, if I never get to those, you'll at least have this. Everyone knows about those other movies, yet it took a fair bit of digging for me to discover this movie. Possession was worth discovering, and is worth taking the sole place of my ultimate belated Halloween movie review. This movie had me figuratively crawling out of my skin in the first hour alone, which is nothing more than soap opera-esque melodrama between an estranged couple. However, the second hour... is insanity on a stick and had me squirming at much more visceral things.

  The strength of this first hour is the laser-like precision in which the melodrama plays out. It feels real. You almost forget it's even acting. The tension is palpable as Mark (Sam Neill) returns home from his job abroad to his small son, and distressed wife, Anna (Isabelle Adjani) who is insisting upon a divorce. She is adamant that it's not because she found someone else, but Mark isn't so sure. The tension between them steadily climbs as the movie progresses until it's almost unbearable. You can FEEL their rage, anguish, sadness, frustration, and ultimately... their insanity.

  When things take a strange turn though, Mark starts uncovering something especially sinister and unnatural behind his wife's behavior. The movie descends into darkness midway through it's second act, and plunges into mind-bogglingly weird territory in the third. The transition from nerve grating marital feuds to a dark and supernatural occultish mystery is handled with surprising mastery. We don't realize how much the first act, was setting up the last two. When things start revealing themselves, Anna's behavior make newfound sense. ...Even if little else does at that point. You're so caught up in the sheer craziness though that you cannot even stop to ask 'why' because the movie never attempts to fool you as to what it is: an unbridled descent into pure madness.

  It would make a fantastic double feature with In The Mouth of Madness. Though this movie is less... flamboyant in the way that Madness was. Though if any other movie deserved that amazing title, it's Possession.  Sam Neill is on the ball as Mark, a spy who's work seems to be messing up his home life, we think nothing of his profession right away as it's played very low key. It doesn't seem to be of any consequence until the insane (it's pretty much the perfect adjective for this movie. Bear with me.) third act.
He plays Mark with brutal sincerity, he cares about Anna and goes to unreal ends trying to make things work between them. It shows in every intense moment of his screentime. He balances his role perfectly, going crazy and desperate, but never chewing scenery. He plays well with Isabelle Adjani who gets so little screentime with him, in which they're NOT being totally hostile to each other, one would readily believe they hated each other off camera as well.

  The movie has a small contained character list, but the few that are there are colorful and bring the movie to life. However, this movie is singlehandedly stolen in ONE scene by Adjani. It's a scene which I refuse to spoil, but it has her character freaking out and flailing around. This scene is disturbing, and she takes it to the limit and the goes beyond. She hurls herself across the set with the recklessness of a mental person. Her physical devotion to this seen is unrivaled, it's almost painful to watch, because you refuse to believe the actress herself doesn't have a massive headache. What's even more amazing (or cruel. Up to you.) is that the scene goes on... and on and on and on. It's all in one take and it escalates more and more and more. It feels almost neverending. I kept expecting that any second they'd cut away, or change scenes. Nope. They follow this crazy moment all the way to it's grueling conclusion.

  Even with all that description, I doubt anyone could be prepared for that moment when it comes. It's so intense, I was wide-eyed and glued to the screen. That one scene is so amazing on every level that it alone is worth seeing the movie for. That one moment is so worth it. The movie is amazing already, and then it had that scene and just blew me away. The movie only gets stranger from there on out. I would be crazy myself to think I could even make sense of the final act, but it was certainly captivating! It has built up so much tension and nerve grating suspense that when everything begins to unravel it all violently spirals out of control. Which is honestly, fascinating to watch. It feels like an H.P. Lovecraft story, so much of the raw horror stems from something creepy, unknown, and lurking in the shadows of the plot around every turn. When we finally get to see it, we're hardly prepared for it. However, I do know one thing, this movie was awesome.

  I wholeheartedly recommend you see this movie if you can handle it.  The melodrama of the first hour is just as brutal and disturbing as the second hour, which somehow manages to out-do the first by sheer insanity. It's creative, creepy, disturbing, enthralling and very well acted. It may not always make sense, but it knows it too. It's a nightmare in every sense of the word, and believe me, that's a compliment! It plays like a lite version of Antichrist. (that's not really a bad thing either...) And it's also akin to the fantastic Jacob's Ladder, with all the Lovecraftian stylings you could want. How does that not sound awesome?

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