Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy
By Steve Anderson
February 1, 2011

The Possession Experiment

The Possession Experiment
Directed by Scott B. Hansen
Written by Mary Dixon, Scott B. Hansen
Starring Chris Minor, Jake Brinn, Bill Moseley

"The Possession Experiment" is one of those movies that looks a lot better than it actually is. It's not hard to do that, really, as this movie combines some impressive visuals with a noteworthy concept for a plot. But as we've seen many times before, clever concepts and impressive visuals can't save a bad movie from being completely bad. The question is, how well can "The Possession Experiment" cash the check written by awesome visuals and nifty concepts?

"The Possession Experiment" follows a young theology student with a particular fondness for horror films--kind of like all of us, am I right?--who decides to take it up a notch by going after a theology project that pursues the decidedly darker heart of theology's nature. Our dark theologian, Brandon by name, thus decides to pursue exorcisms. Joining up with a group of other students, Brandon eventually finds a multiple homicide that might have something to do with an exorcism that didn't go according to Hoyle. Brandon decides the only way to get to the bottom of things is by becoming the next exorcism.

The answer to the above question is that, for the most part, if you could put this movie into an aerosol can, you could use it to patch a hole in a boat that consists of an entire screen door like in the commercials for Flex-Seal. That's how hard this movie's check bounces. This is rubber, and not pleasant rubber at that.

How bad is it? For a movie about exorcisms, it's never a good sign when you can't accurately reproduce the Lord's Prayer less than four minutes into the film. Worse, you've got two Catholic priests who apparently muffed the dialogue, and that smacks of either terminal research failure or a version of the Our Father so incredibly obscure that it would be mistaken for a terminal research failure. You drop a ball that big right out of the gate the whole movie is tainted.

Sadly, the rest of the film isn't much better, with stilted dialogue and an oddly unfocused presentation that seems to just bounce along with little in the way of order to give it any kind of structure. The dialogue has too much and the plot has too little. Strange assessment, I know, but it's terrible news to have a movie with a great concept that has so thoroughly botched it.

The worst part about the whole thing is that it's actually a fairly clever concept that could have been a lot more than it was. It's like the narrative version of "The Blair Witch Project," shot on a shoestring, and with a bizarre sort of Morgan Spurlock vibe to it as, instead of sucking down McDonald's all day, Brandon decides to make the catastrophically bad decision of pulling a demon into his body. By the time Brandon unwraps the Ouija-style board that had been hidden in the basement of an old house, it almost becomes comically overblown, as Brandon suddenly becomes the paranormal equivalent of Donny Don't from that old Simpsons episode, "Boy Scoutz 'n the Hood."

The ending reaches into a whole new level of ludicrous and pulls out a handful of vaguely interconnected twists, nigh-impossibilities, and balls-out lunacy sufficient to satisfy most any devotee of the insane arts.

Special features include English subtitles, a making of featurette, a behind the scenes featurette and a slate of deleted scenes. The fact that there's not one trailer on this is deeply surprising; I frankly expected better out of a Sony release, even a clearly direct to video one.

All told, there are some decent parts to "The Possession Experiment," and if it had had a little more time and care taken with its presentation, it might have delivered a whole that was downright spine-tingling and thoroughly original. As it is, it's merely put a clever concept into a baffling avalanche of puzzling. The twists thrown in hit pretty hard and fast, but it adds to more of a jumbled-up nature more than anything else. Creepy, disjointed and weird, this might make one good watch, but most likely won't come back.