As far as big release cinema horrors go ‘The Possession of Hannah Grace’ slipped well under my radar, having missed it on the big screen I had the chance to view it recently on my own lowly setup and surprisingly it still delivered – to a degree.
The plot opens with a standard Hollywood-stylised exorcism with just more than a few nods to Friedkin’s classic movie. Needless to say, the ritual doesn’t end particularly well and Hannah Grace, the subject of the possession, is killed. Fast forward a few months and we catch up with Megan, an ex-cop with a history of substance abuse and depression as she starts her new job at a hospital morgue. Despite the recommendations her friends, she is determined that this job, isolated in the dark basement surrounded by the dead is the best place for her rehabilitation. Sadly, for her, Hannah Grace and her demonic inhabitant are inbound and all the pills in the world couldn’t replicate the trippy night she is about to have.
The location of the morgue provides the perfect setup for any horror movie, and whilst Megan and her topical backstory provide the standard generic hero to route for, I was most impressed at the films locations and use of the space and lighting they afforded. The films first half is as creepy as hell, the long dimly lit hallways, the cold metal lined morgue room, the silence echoing around the basement facility all help to generate a real feeling of isolation and dread. I was really taken in by the atmosphere. The films first half exercises some restraint as, even when Hannah body is delivered, and you ultimately know what is coming, the film still toys with your nerves some more with some outstanding set pieces which keep you right on the edge of tension. Hannah’s body mutilated and contorted from her failed exorcism lingers in and out of the cameras focus, subtle movements and some effective jump-scares start to turn the chill factor right up to 11.
The film is technically polished, and whilst saying the film is big budget isn’t quite accurate, compared to most indie horror there is obviously more money available; this pays dividends in creating the films setup making a big impact. Prepared, at the very least, to be creeped out by the films halfway mark.
Sadly, budget cannot belay talent, or more so, effective horror writing, and this film’s final half really lacked the creativity it needed to become a classic – it’s a real shame, I felt it was going to strike gold with such a good setup. Sadly, it feels as if by the hour mark the film just wanted to get finished. All the subtly in the scares disappear and there is a change in pace and direction. The possessed Hannah Grace turns from a lingering terror to a full-on scuttling slasher stalker.
I don’t want to come across too negative, as at this point the film is still loud, brash and horrifying. The monster still looks cool, there is plenty going on – people being thrown across rooms, screamed at by a riotous monster whose crawling, scuttling movements wouldn’t look out of place in an Asian horror film, but it wasn’t quite the exercise in terror as I was hoping.
Despite its setup, by the end ‘The Possession of Hannah Grace’ would become standard popcorn horror, competent and enjoyable, but its most definitely a one watch affair, and on the whole its probably likely to resonate with teen horror fans rather than seasoned genre addicts.
Overall, ‘The Possession of Hannah Grace’ is a good movie for a lights off Saturday evening with your jumpy girlfriend or boyfriend. Its creepy and ultimately entertaining, so long as you aren’t expecting anything beyond a copy of recent Blum-House style horror you won’t be disappointed.