Banner: Screen Gems, Broken Road Productions
Producers: Todd Garner, Sean Robins
Directors: Diederik Van Rooijen
Cast: Brian Sieve
Writers: Shay Mitchell, Grey Damon, Stana Katic, Kirby Johnson, Louis Herthum
Music: John Frizzell
This year has seen an array of horror films hitting the screens in the form of The Nun, Halloween, A Quiet Place and Heredity. The latest to join is list is The Possession Of Hannah Grace. Today, horror, much like comedy, is not about over-the-top acting and loud emotions. So what makes a good horror film? Jump scares? Dark and eerie places? Disfigurement? Fear of the unusual? Suspense? The Possession Of Hannah Grace has all of that. But, most importantly, it has a script.
Diederik Van Rooijen’s horror flick is set in a mortuary of a hospital. The film begins with the dreadful exorcism of a young girl named Hannah Grace. While the priest chants prayers and tries hard to extricate the demon trapped in her body, it overpowers the cross that hangs in the room and ends up killing the priest. The girl’s father, helpless, smothers his daughter with a pillow, to end her life, to prevent the demon from claiming more lives.
Years later, we see an ex-cop, Megan Reed, join the morgue as an assistant. It is revealed that she suffers from anxiety and carries a bottle of neutralisers. Hannah’s cadaver with unusually sapphire blue eyes is brought to the morgue in a battered state. As the night progresses, she starts attacking Megan’s co-workers. Every life she claims gives her strength and heals her wounds. What happens next forms the rest of the film.
The horror flick is sprinkled with creepy moments. To top that, there are enough jump scares that will make you want to curl up in a corner of your seat. The note on which the film begins is intelligently infused and sets the tone for the rest of the story. Brian Sieve’s writing keeps you engaged. The only thing that works against this otherwise intriguing narrative is its slow first half. It takes a lot of time for situations to be established. However, once it picks up, there is no room for monotony. The subplot that comprise the back story of Megan has been seamlessly blended in the narrative.
The Possession Of Hannah Grace has a dark, distressful, uncomfortable and claustrophobic backdrop. Most of the events take place in a single night. There are no high-octane and melodramatic moments of the tattered cadaver with burns and gashes attacking mortals. The background score plays a very important role to up the spook factor in a horror film. This film benefits from a striking sound design. Elements of uncertainty and suspense loom large over it.
Shay Mitchell steals the show, hands down. As a resolute, conflicted, strong and disturbed ex-cop, she is top-notch. Grey Damon’s Andrew, Megan’s former boyfriend, a vulnerable and emotional guy, despite limited screen time, performs well. Stana Katic’s Lisa, Megan’s friend, is okay. Kirby Johnson as Hannah carries the creepy quotient several notcehs higher despite not having any dialogue. Louis Herthum as Hannah’s father leaves a mark.