Possessed of little novelty

It's a given: Characters in horror films are programmed to behave as if, during their entire lives, they had never laid eyes on a single horror film.

Otherwise they wouldn't have tampered with a sealed wooden box bearing an ancient Hebrew description. And they wouldn't have hesitated to seek assistance when the family's cute little girl starts behaving like Regan in The Exorcist (I can't believe that was 39 years ago!) minus the blaze-of-glory, projectile vomit (though the film-maker must have been immensely tempted).

The Possession tries to capitalise on the name of its producer, Sam Raimi of Evil Dead and Drag Me To Hell fame. But this, in all fairness, is more a straight-to-DVD movie with a tolerable scare quotient and scenes of calculated dread.

In a minor divergence from the possession-flick template, the film switches from Christianity to Judaism, and for a Bible-quoting priest substitutes a young Orthodox rabbi (with a tic) as the vanquisher of the vengeful spirit.

The behaviour of possessed little girls is one of cinema's great spectacles, with the precursor for all cursed pre-teens being, of course, Regan in William Friedkin's The Exorcist. But demonic possession, at its most evil, is a violation of the body. It should also summon up images of innocence being trampled, twisted and ruptured, but most films choose to ignore that and fixate merely on the grotesque _ artificially grotesque _ performance of a little girl looking sick and scary. If in need of a fix, I'd watch The Exorcist again any day.

About the author

columnist
Writer: Kong Rithdee
Position: Deputy Life Editor