"Based on a true story", is something people like to read on movie posters – ot at least the involved designers seem to think so. For movies that have something to do with possessions and exorcisms, this seems to be the case even more. This is of course not very surprising, as for example the Catholic Church has conducted several exorcism in the past with allegedly possessed persons. And even today there are some exorcists in the vatican, doing research on the topic. This may sound frightening, but on the other hand the church is also home to several academics who still think that homosexuality might be healed with globules.
The new element in the movie the "The Possession" is the Dibbuk Box. This little vine case actually exists and was purchased in September 2001 by a garage owner in Oregon. He claims that it has caused several mysterious events and appearances ever since. The history of the box (which features, among others, a hebrew prayer carved into it) can be traced back to November 1938, around the time of the Pogrom Night in Germany. Thus, it even has been said to possible having influenced Hitler and his deeds. You may believe a story like this or not, but it definitely offers an interesting starting point for a movie. Ole Bornedal and co-producer Sam Raimi obviously hat the same thought and converted the story to a movie that could be seen on the silver screen as "The Possession".
The result is a mostly very atmospheric horrormove, which gains a lot from good acting (especially from Nathasha Calis as the possessed girl), a good sound track and solid shock moments, which do not even have to rely on a lot of Special-FX due to the theme.
Unfortunately, the movie ends up in a rather conventional finale and the plot does not delve deeply enough into the interesting Jewish theme. All in all, "The Possession" can still be considered a solid genre movie which might be seen – quality-wise – in one league with "The Exorcism of Emily Rose".
Ole Bornedal was not really off to a good start in Hollywood back in 1997 when he wanted to film a remake of his own Danish hit Nighwatch because Dimension Films had its problems with the too graphic depiction of many aspects. Several scenes, among them the sex scene in the morgue and the vomiting in the baptismal font, were removed from the adapted version.
The Possession was not seen as that problematic but had to be censored nonetheless. Lionsgate wanted to achieve a PG-13 rating and therefore had the original version (which had been rated R) cut in order to get it.
In a case like this, an uncut home cinema release is always probable. However, so far only the Theatrical Version has been announced in the US. In the UK and Germany, on the other hand, the original version can be bought on both blu-ray and DVD from April 4th. This only includes the parts that were removed from the original cinema version, no new material has been added. Many of the cuts seem rather arbitrary – why would for example a longer screaming by less than a second make a difference for the rating? One single "Fuck" also disappeared, although this usually is no problem for a PG-13 rating if it only happens once or twice. In our opinion, the removal of the most violent parts would have been enough.
However, the MPAAB obviously did not think like that.
28 alterations in total
24 extended scenes
2 alternative scenes
2 alternative shots
The old woman is being shaken in an additional shot.
Her son listens at the door a bit longer after ringing the bell.
The woman goes down longer (SloMo).
Tje shot of the woman stumbling backwards agains the wall starts earlier.
Additional shot of the the horrified looking man in fron of the entrance door.
This take is used shortly after in the Theatrical Version.
No difference in running time
The Theatrical shows the previously mentioned shot. In the Unrated, however, the old woman's head can be seen hitting the glass table from a frog perspective. Blood splatters on it, then she is pulled back again (everything in slow motion).
Miss Shandy is falling in an additional shot after hitting the blackboard behind her.
The teacher is rolling on the ground in a closer shot, then opens her mouth, which is filled with blood, and starts gargling.
Miss Shandy's head hits one of the ceiling lamps.
The shot of the possessed man on the monitor starts earlier.
The video starts with two additional shots in which a cleric explains the fixation of the girl to the chair to her family.
Clyde's shot runs a bit longer. Then there is a fade over to an additional, closer shot of him while the girl still can be heard screaming in the background.
The close-up of the sharp hand in Emily's hand starts earlier.
Partially Alternative Shot
Unrated: Emily is floating upwards longer while her mother is walking backwards towards her. She eventually turns around to her daughter in a frontal shot.
Theatrical: The close-up of the glass shard is a bit longer (0,5 sec.), her mother can be seen partially turning around in the foreground already.
A single tooth in Brett's mouth gets loose, he takes it out and looks at it in a close-up. The following shot of him starts earlier as well.
The shot of Brett satarts earlier before he puts his hand on his mouth.
The same shot also takes longer, Brett longer fumbles around with his not toothless mouth.
Brett's shot was again shortened a bit. verkürzt.
He is tumbling backwards a few frames longer.
Emily screams a moment longer.
Theatrical: Tzadok puts on his head scarf longer. Stephanie and Clyde can be seen in an alternative shot, in which Clyde prepares his bible.
Unrated: The exorcism can be seen longer, every tries to hold the screaming Emily down.
Theatrical Version: 4 sec. / Unrated: 17,5 sec.
Theatrical: A shorter part of the exorcism. Emily screams and Tzadok and tells him to be quiet.
Unrated: Emily soon starts pretending to be alright again. Her sister says "It stopped!" and everybody is relieved when Emily suddenly starts screaming again. Clyde bows over her and screams at the demon to take him instead of his daughter.
Theatrical Version: 11,5 sec. / Unrated: 34 sec.
Emily screams a little longer.
Before the long "...you!" by Emily, the Unrated adds the rather logical "Fuck...".
The black screen is a bit longer, then the tracking shot from the car starts a lot earlier. Tzadok, bleeding and rattling, can be seen hanging upside down in his safety belt.