STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
RUNNING TIME: 85 Minutes
- Alternate & Deleted Scenes
Buffy tries to solve the case of the brother-in-law possessed by her comatose husband–only without the help of her pals or witty dialogue.
Sarah Michelle Gellar, Lee Pace, Michael Landes. Directors: Joel Bergvall & Simon Sandquist
Jessica (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is living a mostly happy life with her husband, Ryan (Michael Landes), when he and his ne’er-do-well brother, Roman (Lee Pace), get in a car crash that puts them both in comas. Roman awakes soon after, but he claims that he’s
actually Ryan and tries to convince Jessica of the same.
Nothing ever happens to people this pretty and happy!
Sarah Michelle Gellar’s post-Buffy the Vampire Slayer career has been, to put it kindly, a bit of a disaster. The only real hit she’s been in is The Grudge, which has all but been forgotten (except for as a footnote in the J-Horror trend in the mid-2000’s). The rest of the movies she’s made were barely released, went straight to DVD or were a Scooby-Doo sequel, which is disappointing to a giant Buffy fan like myself. So, it was with a mix of anticipation and apprehension that I watched Possession, a film that’s sat on the shelf since 2007 until being dumped onto DVD this month. I didn’t expect much, and what I got was 2/3rds of an okay, if overly melodramatic, movie with a last act so mind-numbingly stupid I was tempted to chuck my TV out the window.
I call this one “The Sexy Golem”
One of the things that surprised me about the film is that, for a good chunk of it’s running time, I was actually involved in what was happening. Maybe it’s my love for Jonathan Glazer’s underrated 2004 film Birth, but the plot managed to draw me in and make me wonder if Roman was telling the truth or not. Having said that, the film is about as subtle as a sledgehammer. You know Roman’s a bad boy because he has tattoos, smokes in the house, kicks the dog and is all scowl-y. You know Ryan is the good boy because he’s an artist, he writes his wife love letters, sets up candles and cake for their anniversary and never stops smiling. Also, the dialogue lacks a certain grace. Right after Roman sleeps with a girl he’s been seeing, she sits up and says, “So what was it like in prison?” *forehead smack*. Despite all this, I stuck with the movie for awhile without being bored and, at times, I was downright surprised at the film’s visual style. There are quite a few shots that are truly beautiful–especially during the car crash–though it becomes increasingly obvious that the directors cared more about the pretty, pretty pictures than they did about the movie making a lick of sense.
“Ugh, you got me right in the tit!”
I think my affection for Gellar and Lee Pace (he of Pushing Daisies fame) kept me interested more than anything else, and the two managed to raise the film up to a degree. They do have chemistry, and they both handle the melodramatic moments better than lesser actors would (though the constantly swelling score doesn’t help). Unfortunately, there’s nothing they could do to save the last 15 minutes of this movie. I’m going to have to get into the ending in order to explain why the film fails so miserably, so if you want to see it, consider this your warning. Roman manages to convince Jessica that he really is Ryan when he recounts stories from their various vacations together and tells her what Ryan said to her on one particularly romantic day. Jessica falls for it, they bone, and she gets pregnant. But, some business with a necklace (that made absolutely no sense) causes Jessica to become suspicious again, and she goes to her chest full of letters and pictures. Suddenly, she realizes that Roman must have broken into the chest and used the stories from the letters to gain her trust. SERIOUSLY?!?! She knew she had that chest full of letters, but somehow it didn’t occur to her that Roman could’ve been using them to fool her? She goes through the letters earlier in the film, so it’s not like she forgot they existed. It’s the type of twist that makes the viewer resentful for ever caring about anything that happened before.
“I can’t believe you fell for this shit!”
From there, the film goes completely downhill. Jessica finally confronts Roman, and he becomes crazy and tries to kill her just because he loves her so damn much. What’s confusing about this is it’s intercut with Ryan at the hospital having a stroke or something while the doctors work on him. The film seems to imply that maybe there is a connection between them as Roman seems to be able to feel Ryan’s pain in that moment. Or something. I don’t know, and I don’t think the filmmakers did either. The film ends with even more mystical bullshit that puts the final nail in the “I hate this movie” coffin. For a movie that worked as a slightly above-average, melodramatic Lifetime movie for a good chunk, Possession managed to screw the pooch, and after sitting through that abysmal ending, it’s being relegated to DVD shelves seems almost too kind.
I saw this image and then thought of the perfect caption: “Wait, which one is my husband?”… and then the character actually said the exact same thing.
The box art for this movie is totally deceptive. Look at the image above. Doesn’t that look like a scary movie to you? It’s not, and doesn’t even try to be. Many people are going to rent or buy this expecting a scary movie, and they’ll be extremely disappointed with what they get.
The DVD comes with a featurette that is your basic EPK crap about how great the script, directors and cast were. Nothing new there. There are over 30 minutes of alternate and deleted scenes that change the movie a bit. In one of them, Ryan dies about midway through the movie, and there’s an alternate ending where Jessica and Roman live happily ever after. It’s clear that the filmmakers didn’t know what to do with this movie after the initial premise and that there was a ton of post-production tinkering.