“This is all kind of a little scary” – The Possession Experiment (Film Review)

** Stars

A stormy night and a creepy house, it’s the perfect mix for exorcism and Tracy Crowell is the possessed.  Switch to present day and a student with a penchant for exorcism with a project to complete discovers the true nature of evil as he investigates the Crowell story and his obsession with exorcism deepens, revealing his true nature and his link to the case he’s studying.

For anyone familiar with any film dealing with possession or films about students investigating spooky things, there’s little new here in execution; at least it’s not a found footage film. The friendship between studious Brandon, sultry scientist Leda and stoner Clay has a ring of reality to it, before collapsing as things get weirder. We also get medium Julie who adds little to proceedings, some religious types, a detective investigating strange deaths and an internet audience who pointlessly get to watch bits of the events unfold.

As Brandon’s behaviour becomes more erratic, the story fails to deliver on the tense atmosphere it tries to create.  With Brandon’s possession deepening, Chris Minor does what he can with the script, ably assisted by the duo of Jake Brinn and Nicky Jasper, but there’s far too much familiarity in what’s happening to really grip all but the newest of genre viewers.

It’s a curious experience watching The Possession Experiment as the film jumps around in tone whilst tripping over its uneven delivery. The film is, it feels, a film of two halves – you’ve got part of an average buddy flick and then the bargain basement horror.  The horror offers nothing new and doesn’t deliver it particularly well – we get Brandon carrying out despicable deeds, Clay and Leda overreacting, pointless supporting characters, revelations that are delivered with the same shock and awe as you’d expect if someone said “I don’t like cucumber sandwiches” and a rushed introduction of investigating forces.  Little is made of the whole internet audience angle and it just feels like the conceit was thrown in because crowdfunding and internet streaming are ‘cool’.

There’s little to recommend about The Possession Experiment and there’s certainly better examples of the genre out there that have found there way onto supermarket DVD shelves over the years.

Dir: Scott Hanson
Scr: Scott Hanson, Mary Dixon
Cast: Chris Minor, Jake Brinn, Nicky Jasper
Country: USA
Year: 2016
Runtime: 81 mins

The Possession Experiment is available on digital  download from 14th May 2018