Possession films are a hard sell to horror audiences and there is one reason for that: 1973’s The Exorcist. The Exorcist is the pinnacle of demonic possession films, and most films dealing with demonic possession made after The Exorcist pale in comparison to William Friedkin’s landmark film.
There have been dozens of rip-offs over the years like The Rite, Deliver Us from Evil, and The Last Exorcism, just to name a few from the last decade. Still none of these films were memorable, nor are they talked about in today’s horror community.
Still there are even fewer films dealing with demonic possession that were decent: The Exorcism of Emily Rose and The Conjuring, just to name two. But even these films cannot come close to the pure terror and raw emotional power of the original Exorcist.
The Possession of Hannah Grace falls into the latter category; there isn’t anything new to this film that we haven’t seen before to make it feel fresh or unique. In fact, not only does The Possession of Hannah Grace not bring anything new to the table, it borrows elements distinctly from three films: The Exorcist, The Autopsy of Jane Doe, and Nightwatch (1994 or the 1997 remake).
The film follows former cop Megan Reed (Shay Mitchell) who takes a job working for the hospital’s morgue unit during the night shift. Megan, who suffers from PTSD and is dealing with a drug addiction and in rehab, is trying to put her life back together after the death of her partner while on the job. The stress of working with cadavers is hard enough while alone, but things take a turn for the worse when the corpse of young Hannah Grace arrives.
Director Diederik Van Rooijen does a serviceable job telling the story, though the plot is paper thin and never really resolves itself and leaves a few glaring holes that are hard to overlook. Most of the scenes have been washed out and dimmed to give the film that cold dreaded feeling but a lot of them come off too dark and it’s hard to tell, at times, what’s going on. Rooijen never really elevates the atmosphere nor plays off it to enhance the creepiness. The scares (even the jump scares) come off stale and uninspired with the normal horror clichés that have been done to death. There isn’t really anything shocking in the film that could raise the hair or gooseflesh on one’s arms, except for the way Hannah Grace (Kirby Jonson) can contort her body – it is rather unsettling to see this young lady move the way she does, but the best part of this contortion show is shown in the trailers.
There was some time allotted to character development, mostly with Shay Mitchell’s character, Megan Reed, as she is on screen for almost the entire film (but even some of her character traits are stolen – she boxes, just like Father Karras in The Exorcist) as well as the paramedic Megan befriends. But outside of these two characters no one is memorable and only serve as bodies for the demon to consume.
The Possession of Hannah Graces isn’t the worst film in a long line of possession films, but it is as forgettable as films like The Rite, The Possession, or The Last Exorcism.
3 stars out of 10