"The Possession" is proof a movie can be scary without having to resort to an onslaught of blood, guts and profanity that would earn it an R rating. Director Ole Bornedal gets the maximum chills from gloomy weather, a foreboding soundtrack, lighting trickery, decent special effects and acting performances that sell each startle while still coming in with a PG-13 rating.
It's shocking the film was produced by Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert, who helped ramp up horror film violence with "Evil Dead." The restraint they showed should open up "Possession" to a larger audience.
It starts with a cautionary tale: You never know what you're going to get from a yard sale. When Em (Natasha Calis) buys a weird box, her divorced parents -- Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick) -- plus her older sister Hannah (Madison Davenport) soon realize the box was no bargain. It holds an evil spirit that begins to take over Em.
The film tries to walk the line of reality by presenting parental parting as a possible catalyst for Em's odd ways. But eventually the family realizes drastic measures are needed to save the young girl.
Morgan continues to show his versatility. He's gone from the outlandish superhero Comedian in "Watchmen" to the suave night club owner in "Magic City" to this believable father. His performance helps make the film work.