Hello to all those faithfully reading and hopefully enjoying this effort to make even the worst horror movie more watcha... aw, screw that - I'm not that good. If a movie makes you cringe because yet another batch of unlikable teens that are pushing 30 are inching toward their deaths, having a party no one does anywhere ever, a paranormal movie is boring you to tears with unending pans of empty rooms, or thanks to CGI technology when people finally bite it, their blood squirts everywhere except on the victim, the ground, the people next to them... you're in good company and this is the right place for you.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

OY VEY! A JEWISH HORROR MOVIE! BASED ON A TRUE STORY! OY GEVALT!




The Possession (2012)

Sam Raimi. That's what I saw going down the list of movies to watch. The title was... beyond unimaginative but... Sam Raimi. What could possibly go wrong (as my friend Tim Forston is fond of saying)? So I start this movie I had never heard of even though there are at least four movies just on Netflix with a variation of the 'Possession' title but hey - Sam Raimi. If you don't recognize that name, he (and Bruce Campbell) crafted my favorite trilogy - The Evil Dead. I start it up and see: The following is based on a true story. 

Uh oh. C'mon Sam, say it ain't so - you're gonna give us a lame 'I swear this really happened!' kind of movie? Next: This is what happened to one family over the course of 29 days. Oh crap. That means I have to immediately call BS on good ole' Sammy 'cause just because there were two lines of description given to us, does NOT mean that they are related to each other. And they're not.

AND this movie is not an original idea. In 1937 a Yiddish horror movie called 'The Dybbuk', or 'Between Two Worlds' was based on a 1914 play by S. Ansky, relating the story of a young bride possessed by a dybbuk – a malicious possessing spirit, believed to be the dislocated soul of a dead person – on the eve of her wedding. The Dybbuk is considered a seminal play in the history of Jewish theater, and played an important role in the development of Yiddish theater and theater in Israel.

This movie held interest for me 'cause of Sam, the fact it was a Jewish horror movie (don't see many of those), it has a historical bent to it, and part of the story generates from Portland, Oregon (about an hour from where I live). Sigh. So I stopped the movie and went to see the true and the make-believe.

There is, in real REAL life the supposed existences of what are called a Dibbuks or Dybbuks (a Yiddish term simply meaning dislocated spirit, usually malicious) depending on where you look. And this particular so-called trapped dibbuk is in what is called a wine box, (or scroll box, depending). In other words, I don't think anybody knows for 100% positive what the hell it REALLY is. Supposedly the original possession of Jewish holocaust survivors, this particular box was passed along until it was in someone's hands who either saw bad luck or a huge opportunity.

Bought by the owner of an antiques store in Portland, this person heard that it contained a spirit, trapped there when the Jewish owners performed some kind of seance over it. Uh huh. So in other words, once again people have messed around with spiritism and actually have the gall to act surprised when bad things happen. It is especially puzzling that this is was a Jewish seance (using a homemade Oracle board) since at Leviticus 20:27 Jehovah God directly told the Jewish people; “‘And as for a man or woman in whom there proves to be a mediumistic spirit or spirit of prediction, they should be put to death without fail. They should pelt them to death with stones. Their own blood is upon them.’”

So, finding not wine (or a scroll) inside the box but instead two locks of hair, one granite slab, one dried rosebud, one goblet, two wheat pennies, one candlestick and, of course, allegedly one 'dybbuk', the owner decided to get rid of it on eBay. It started with a bid of $1. The owner ramps up a good story about it being supposedly haunted and the bids go wild. The story gets ramped up even more with the report of SEVERAL owners reporting bad juju when they supposedly owned the box and the crowd goes bananas. eBay reported that the site got over 140,000 hits. At least five authors, one screenwriter and a documentary crew have sought up-close access, so much so that the present owner had to go off the grid just to get some privacy.

So, urban legend or jinxed box? Let's put it this way (and this is not my thinking but psychologists) - when you expect bad things to happen because of something, you usually won't be disappointed. So the box could be 'jinxed' if you really believe it to be. As for the origin of the 'dybbuk' itself - that is a very long and twisty subject that can be interpreted really any way you want it to be.

Umm what? Oh oh oh, the movie... yeah, I was disappointed. Dybbuk box? Yeah, supposedly it existed, first reported by the LA Times in 2004 (the movie gives this article credit at the end). The family? Pure fiction. See? Based on a true story simply means yes, there was a box. The rest is... the same old thing you've seen a thousand times in movies just like this one - the family wasn't particularly likable, the plot totally uninspired, the effects, although some were kind of neat were obviously CGI'd, and the ending was set (I had it written down quick) from the second the movie started.

So a newly divorced family starts having a truckload of trouble when their youngest daughter finds this box in a garage sale (of course). She starts talking to it, hearing it whisper back, and tries to find a way to open it. And, since she has apparently seen Hellraiser, she fondles the box until, like a puzzle, it opens. And it hits the fan. We get a ton of moths, she starts saying in a rough low voice 'Em's not here' just like every other possession movie - I swear if she had said she were Legion I would have stopped the movie right there. 

'Cause that's what killed it for me - cliche' city. I mean nothing they said was remotely original. From the mom and dad fighting, to the 'spirit' talking through the girl, the box killing anyone who touches it (except her family of course), to the Hasidic Jew who, upon being asked to see the girl who by then was in the hospital, saying, 'I don't like hospitals - people die there.' Oh really genius? Name one place on Earth where they don't.

Having one of the girl's eyes roll down in her head and the other up was a cute trick, but the rest was so, blah, that there were really no scares. The spirit is named as the 'Taker Of Children' (oh brother) and the rest is so pedestrian that taking notes was boring. Don't be misled by the poster - no hand comes out of the girl's mouth. It does the father's (that's the typical 'TAKE ME INSTEAD' scene every possession movie has) but the movie poster makes it look scarier happening to the little girl I guess.

The ending? You already know it - that good but bad ending every possession movie has. The girl is released, the father is too, and the Hasidic Jew takes the box to do, uh, whatever he plans to do with it - right up until he's t-boned by an 18 wheeler, which obliterates him, his car, but, of course, not the box - it's without a scratch. The-freaking-end.

Even the makers of this movie must have realized they needed a little extra oomph to push this thing along. If you read about the movie, it is said that no one (not even Sam) wanted to even take a peek at the real box - they made one up - because the idea of the thing scared them badly. Duh. Oh, and (according to them) five days after the filming ended, everything, including the house they filmed in, burned down with no explanation. Uh huh.

Maybe they need to go down to S-Mart and have a talk with a certain rough-chinned hero to solve their problems for them.