Making a good horror film is a tricky undertaking. Of all the film genres out there this seems to be the hardest to get right…or maybe it is romantic comedy? Ok, it is at least top 2. That being said I cannot remember the last good horror film I saw. I keep holding out hope that a good one will come along so I keep trying. When I saw this one in the review pile I dove right in. Looked like it had potential. Possession. Based on a true story. All that seemed good. While it wasn’t the best thing since sliced bread it was a decent enough watch.
NYPD Sergeant Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana – Star Trek, Munich) begins working on a case that is strange from the get go. It involves a mother throwing her son into the lion enclosure at the Bronx Zoo. At first Sarchie believes he is dealing with a mentally unstable woman and then as the investigation goes on he realizes he might be dealing with something else.
Pretty reluctantly he joins forces with a priest, Father Mendoza (Edgar Ramirez – The Bourne Ultimatum, Zero Dark Thirty), who seems to have some experience with the supernatural and possession.
Soon the case begins to really affect Sarchie and his home life with his wife (Olivia Munn – Magic Mike, Iron Man 2) and young daughter (Lulu Wilson – from television’s The Millers). When it becomes apparent that the two men are going to have to perform an exorcism things really come to a head.
For most of the film Scott Derrickson (Sinister, The Exorcism of Emily Rose) manages to keep the tension up. He uses dark, unlit settings in which you are waiting for something to jump out from the shadows and the whole creepy possession thing to accomplish this. Possession is a good backdrop because even though most film fans have seen it numerous times it still manages to be scary due to the fact that even for non believers in the back of your mind you think it might be possible. And what could be scarier that having your body possessed by an evil spirit. The need for gore is diminished and that is usually what trips up horror films as they rely too much on it and forego story development.
Eric Bana is tough as nails as Sergeant Sarchie. He is not an actor who you get sick of because it seems like he is in every second film made. Bana puts adequate space between his films to ensure of this. Because he is more talented than your average horror film actor he was able to bring a level of believability and realism to his character.
As for the flaws it seemed like Derrickson had a checklist of scary things he wanted to do or accomplish and at times it felt like he was checking them off one by one. As such the whole thing has a little of a formulaic feel to it after a while. Like they are just following a blueprint. Nothing has that spontaneous or original feel to it.
-Previews of No Good Deed, The Equalizer, The Remaining, Predestination, Grace the Possessed, The Calling