Friday, 12 November 2010

Movies: 12 Fantastic Possession Movies - Part 1/3

Whether it's a demon, a malevolent spirit, a paracitic alien or even the devil himself, the fear of something taking over your body/mind and using it to carry out its evil plans is something that's inspired countless writers and directors over the years. Whilst not all of the offerings in the 'possession' genre are wonderful, or even good, it has provided some amazing movies. They send shivers down your spine and have you sleeping with the lights on, or are extremely entertaining at the very least! 

The following films (1-4) are, for one reason or another, some of our favourites. Why 12 you ask? Why not!

The Shining (1980)
Based on Stephen King's novel of the same name, Stanley Kubrick's eerie psychological thriller, 'The Shining', is the story of a writer, Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) who becomes the caretaker of the remote Overlook Hotel, which is closed for winter, in order to try and remedy his writer's block. Jack moves into the hotel with his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and son Danny (Danny Lloyd), who has 'the shining', a term used for the psychic abilities of children.

Soon after the family arrive, Jack's behaviour changes dramatically and it  becomes clear that the hotel and its former residents are having an evil influence over him. Well-acted, visually superb and cleverly blurring the lines between the supernatural and madness, 'The Shining' is a classic of the genre.

The Evil Dead (1981)
Written and directed by Sam Raimi, 'The Evil Dead' is an amazingly well done and creative gore fest and the first film in the trilogy (followed by 'The Evil Dead 2' and 'Army of Darkness'). The plot centres around 5 college students who take a trip to a cabin in the woods,  only to find themselves hunted and possessed by demons, after unwittingly playing an audio tape of a summoning incantation from 'The Book of the Dead'.

On the surface, it sounds like many other 'college kids in the woods being killed' movies, but Raimi actually manages to create something very unique and hooks the viewer from the outset with a combination of an entertaining plot, endearing cast (including Bruce Campbell as Ash and Betsy Baker as Linda), strange camera angles and grisly effects. There really is nothing quite like it!

The Exorcist (1973)Possibly the most famous movies in this genre, the film adaptation of William Peter Blatty's novel 'The Exorcist', directed by William Friedkin,  provoked hysteria and shock amongst movie-goers at the time. Even now, it still has the power to scare jaded modern audiences, even if it isn't really as frightening as its reputation would lead you to believe.

The film starts at an archaeological dig in Iraq, at which Father Lankester Merrin is present. After finding a small artifact - the head of a strange figure - Merrin goes onto find a statue of the demon Pazuzu. The main story, however, begins in Washington D.C. Well-known actress Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) begins to notice unusual and concerning behaviour in her daughter Regan (Linda Blair) after she has played with a Ouija board. Regan's behaviour steadily becomes worse, but after tests show nothing wrong with her brain, Chris is told that her daughter's problem is most likely psychological. After more violent seizures and terrible behaviour, as well as unexplained happenings in the house and the murder of the director of the film she is working on, it becomes blatantly obvious that Regan's problems are superatural in nature. Chris then decides to enlist the help of the church in the form of  a priest having a crisis of faith, Father Damien Karras (Jason Miller), and Father Merrin, who is also an experienced exorcist. Regan's condition becomes drastically worse, and when asked who she is, she calls herself the devil, but she is, in actual fact, possessed by Pazuzu. The two priests must then face both the evil possessing Regan and their own fears and self-doubts in order to save her.

Paranormal Activity (2007)
Oren Peli wrote, directed, edited and was the cinematographer for this massively successful, creepy low-budget flick. Like 'The Exorcist', 'Paranormal Activity' also has a huge amount of hype surrounding it, but this does no favours for either because some movie-goers are then disappointed, as they expect far too much from what would otherwise be considered great films.

The story takes place in the house of Katie (Katie Featherstone) and Micah (Micah Sloat) (Peli's own house in real life), presenting itself as 'found footage', and was filmed entirely with a handheld camera in order to make it appear more realistic. The couple begin experiencing some minor strange happenings and Katie believes that it is a spirit that has haunted her since childhood causing the disruptions. The couple then contact a psychic for help and he suggests that rather than a spirit, it's a demon that is attached to Katie. He suggests that the two of them should contact a demonologist that he recommends and that they should not provoke or interact with with demon. However, Micah instead decides to set up a camera in their bedroom at night, when the majority of the activity happens, in order to catch the entity's prescence on film. Just as the psychic said it would, the interaction with the demon seems to enrage it, and Katie begins showing more and more severe signs of possession. The couple then try to contact the demonologist, but are unable to reach him and must try to deal with the situation themselves.

More to come in parts 2 & 3!
Trailers for 'The Shining', 'The Evil Dead', 'The Exorcist' and 'Paranormal Activity' after the cut↓


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