It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
"The Possession" is a serious horror film about supernatural possession that depends on more than loud noises to scare us. Like "The Exorcist," the best film in the genre, it is inspired by some degree of religious scholarship and creates believable characters in a real world. That religions take demonic possessions seriously makes them more fun for us, the unpossessed.
The possession of the title is an actual object, a dark wood box, ingeniously locked shut. It has a carved inscription in Hebrew informing the finder that the box entraps a dybbuk, an evil spirit that will cleave to the soul of anyone unlucky enough to release it. Dybbuks are a familiar element in Jewish folklore.
After a startling opening sequence in "The Possession," the box turns up in what is actually a likely place, a yard sale. It is purchased by a young girl named Emily (Natasha Calis), who lives with her sister, Hannah (Madison Davenport), and their father, Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), after his divorce from the girls' mother, Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick).
All of this unfolds as a plausible narrative and doesn't depend on a young girl's hysteria or tragedy between her parents (that comes later). It is just as it's billed: A dybbuk box, inspired in fact by an actual box described in a well-known article published in the Los Angeles Times. Whether the real box caused the phenomena on display in the film I somehow doubt, but I don't want to open it in order to find out.