Possession (Blu-ray / DVD)
Reviewed by MattFini
Starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, Lee Pace, Michael Landes
Directed by Joel Bergvall and Simon Sandquist
Distributed by Fox Home Entertainment
When a studio tries to disguise the shortcomings of a mediocre thriller by playing up non-existent horror elements, there’s a problem. In recent memory the Kate Beckinsale thriller Whiteout tried to pass itself off as a supernatural or extraterrestrial horror flick when in reality it was nothing more than a low-key murder mystery. But that’s nothing compared to the debacle of Possession, a woefully generic drama that dissipates from the mind before the mercifully brisk 80-minute running time can conclude.
Sarah Michelle Gellar’s career is on life support at this point, and here she plays a successful attorney married to the world’s most sickeningly sweet guy, Ryan (Michael Landes). Unfortunately, that also means she must contend with his dickhead brother, Roman (Lee Pace). He’s the type of guy who loiters around their place, raiding the fridge and shooting Gellar all sorts of smarmy ”I want to bang you” looks while her husband remains oblivious. One night the brothers happen to be traveling across the Golden Gate Bridge in opposite directions, only to wind up in a head-on collision with one another. Gellar’s husband lapses into a coma, but the wayward brother awakens, claiming to be her comatose husband.
As one might suspect, the rest of the film features a doe-eyed Gellar struggling to come to terms with Roman’s bizarre revelation. At the outset the guy possesses some knowledge of intimacies between her and Ryan’s life pre-accident, but Gellar wonders whether or not it’s all an act. The viewer turns out to be a little quicker than she is, however, since the first act essentially telegraphs the "twist ending" with scenes of the troubled brother waxing poetic over living someone else’s life while wishing he had an opportunity to start over. Go ahead, take a guess. What’s really happening here?
Just one of the film's problems is that Gellar’s character is very poorly written in almost every regard, making her an unsympathetic, unidentifiable dummy. Sure, she’s skeptical of the brother’s claim that he’s her husband, but it never dawns on her to ask probing questions that no one else could know the answers to. The end result leaves viewers wondering why she never takes this initiative, and the script simply hopes that it doesn't occur to us either. And once the character finally does wise up, the culmination is about as generic as any early 90’s Sleeping With the Enemy-esque thriller. Possession isn’t much of a horror film; you could retitle it One Woman’s Dilemma and broadcast it on the Lifetime Channel without missing a beat.
Swedish directors Joel Bergvall and Simon Sandquist have put together a decent looking film but a terminally boring one. Moments when the tension should be mounting around Gellar’s rising suspicions fall flat while she’s allowed to essentially sleepwalk through the entire role. We’ve seen Gellar do conflicted, and her performance here never wavers from that. Lee Pace is equally one-note, first as a sleazy dreg of society and then, later, as a loving husband always looking as though he’s hiding some insidious secret, which, of course, he is. But there’s no complexity to anything here, not in the direction nor in the performances, and certainly not in the writing. This doesn’t fail because it’s not a horror film; it fails because there’s nothing dramatically satisfying about it.
The DVD features a satisfying A/V package. It’s a low-key film with an overly "blue-ish" tint, and the disc seems to be an accurate recreation of the original visual palette. The 5.1 surround track doesn’t necessarily keep your home theater working, but dialogue is clear and relegated to the left and right speakers. Surround speakers are for ambiance only, and they work to envelop the viewer in the film’s happening.
Special features are a bit lackluster. We have a mercifully brief featurette where Gellar makes this flick sound a lot better than it is. Then there are a series of deleted scenes and an alternate ending. The alternate conclusion is a tiny bit better, and the deleted bits do constitute an entirely different third act, but it doesn’t help make the film any more memorable.
Unsurprisingly, this is a remake of an Asian drama called Addicted - a better title for no reason other than it doesn’t insinuate a horror film. It’s really easy to see why Fox decided to dump this dud on DVD and Blu-ray considering there isn’t a thrill or surprise in sight. Everyone knows Hitchcock’s definition of suspense, but it doesn’t work if the story features no edge. Instead, Possession leaves the viewer hoping that there’s more to the story than the lackluster “surprise”, but in this case what you see is what you get. And that’s not very much.
● Deleted and alternate scenes
○ He Isn’t Lying To Us
○ Jess Confronts Casey
○ Ryan’s Life-Support
○ Child Finds Body
● Alternate ending
● Theatrical trailer
1 out of 5
2 1/2 out of 5
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