So, as always, Doc sends out a list of films that need reviewing and, as always, my reply is “Are any of them scary?” I always insist on asking this question because there is very little out there nowadays that most horror hounds consider downright frightening other than the idea of how certain films even get made. The Possession Experiment was offered up and I decided to take a chance, thinking it may have the potential to scare up a fright or two.
Without beating around the bush, I will tell you the most frightening thing about this film is the acting. Bill Moseley has a cameo as Father Mark Campbell, an exorcist at the beginning of the film for about four brief minutes. I am a fan of Mr. Moseley and think he is a great character actor. Sadly, his four minutes are not enough to salvage this film. While it has a unique premise, The Possession Experiment has no idea how to stay on task and keep things interesting throughout.
The Possession Experiment centers around Brandon Jensen, played weakly by Chris Minor, as a student taking a theology class in which they were given an assignment to write a paper on possessions. Brandon decides he is going to really dive into the assignment headfirst by filming himself getting possessed at an infamous home where a notorious possession and murders occurred years earlier. This premise has some potential but falls flat due to the film deciding to go in twenty other directions.
Which directions, you ask?
Well, I don’t want to spoil it but, let’s just say, there is a go fund me, an adoption dilemma, a special camera man, a mom ripping off her own jaw, a date rape, a homemade “Freddy Krueger” claw, a deadly video chat, and a punch right through someone’s mouth exiting through the back of their head. Pack all that action into a convoluted story-line and you get The Possession Experiment.
The normal tropes are in this film as well. Playing the part of Brandon’s stoner partner Clay Harper for the experiment is Jake Brinn. His portrayal of the typical pot head as the comic relief is slightly worse than Jensen’s portrayal of Brandon. As bad as this was it cannot be outdone by Nicky Jasper’s Leda Morgan who is Brandon’s love interest. I think she is literally reading off of cue cards.
The Possession Experiment is directed by Scott B. Hansen and is written by Mary Dixon and Scott B. Hansen. The direction is the only thing that salvages the weak writing with its mish-mash of storylines. Once the variety of plots are brought together, they actually tell a fairly interesting story. Think Rosemary’s Baby as 48 other twists that take away from the main story-line.
Wilson does a good job creating a creepy atmosphere that, unlike many modern horror films, does not rely entirely on jump scares. With a few tweaks to the writing, better production, and much better acting The Possession Experiment probably could have been a better possession, much better than the slop that the genre is throwing together as of late. The use of modern day cyberspace and0 “dot com” generational tools do add a new twist but in the end this is not enough to save the film.
As my big brother, The Black Saint, often says, “I didn’t hate it.” But, in good conscience, I cannot recommend The Possession Experiment. If you go in with lowered expectations and put aside your hopes for adequate performances, you may not be totally disappointed. As I said I have seen a lot worse than this and the film has a twist you may not see coming.
The Possession Experiment (1.5 / 5) on the Thug Meter
The Possession Experiment is available on VOD and iTunes beginning December 6, 2016.