"Possession" is the type of movie where miraculous events occur in the plot, but none of the characters bother to accurately reflect the wondrous gravity of the situation. It's a stillborn chiller (a remake of the South Korean film "Addicted") and an awfully silly picture, boasting screamingly inept performances and preoccupied direction that spends more time seeking out the perfect camera angle than tightening the story to appropriate nail-biting levels of suspense.
Enjoying their first year of marriage, Jessica (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Ryan (Michael Landes) are forced to contend with their house guest, Ryan's parolee brother, Roman (Lee Pace). Roman is a brute with violent tendencies, making Jessica supremely uncomfortable while Ryan goes about his business of being an attentive, loving husband. When tensions flare, Roman storms away and hits the road, eventually crashing into Ryan in an incredible car accident. The brothers suffer major injuries, with only Roman awakening from the dual comas, proclaiming himself to be Ryan, ready to jump back into Jessica's arms. While Roman is armed with intimate information, Jessica remains skeptical of his new identity. However, her romantic side clings to the idea of the husband she's in the process of losing, leaving her vulnerable to Roman's affections.
Directors Simon Sandquist and Joe Bergvall (who made the 2002 Swedish film "The Invisible") make their American debut with "Possession," and boy howdy, these gentlemen know how to fashion a handsome picture. Embracing misted Canadian locations, woodsy interiors, and moody color manipulation, the team keeps their film visually appealing for as long as humanly possible (a good 15 minutes). "Possession" is glossy and allegedly sensual, searching for ways to establish Roman's presence as more than just a simple poorly tattooed threat, establishing a curious air of sexual invasion that's lost on the likes of Gellar and Pace, who share chemistry more in line with a pair of subway passengers than one of burgeoning marital infatuation. "Possession" looks sharp, but fussed over to a distracting degree, especially when the rest of the film is begging for something more to do than just mope around and wait for the twist.
Roman's identity is the mystery at the artificial heart of the film. Is he truly Ryan? Has some supernatural event occurred where souls were swapped through the mix of accident-scene blood? Had "Possession" offered more acceleration in the pursuit of answers, Sandquist and Bergvall might've had quite a corker of a movie. Instead, Michael Petroni's screenplay shuffles around for 80 static minutes with little to say, while the directors pass on the opportunity to build a generous Hitchcockian tone, preferring to use their time tinkering with lighting and mapping out scene transitions. Jessica's easily distracted drive to poke a branch into Roman's mental bear trap is rendered a total bore through the script's aggravating inertia and Gellar's sleepwalking performance. Just who or what is Roman? After the first act establishes the drought of conflict to come, it's impossible to care.
Matters grow violent in the conclusion of the film, but the sudden burst of action comes far too late to truly awaken the feature from its own coma. In fact, it's probably best to shut the movie off about an hour in and just invent your own conclusion. A good couch-based brainstorm session is definitely going to be far more satisfying than what Petroni cooks up for a payoff.
For further online adventure, please visit brianorndorf.com