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Grace The Possession (2014)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 10/28/2014
All Ratings out of
Extras: No Extras
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 10/31/2014
I guess it's a good thing that I wasn't around in the 50s and 60s, as I'm a
sucker for a movie gimmick. Professional huckster William Castle used things
like seat buzzers (The Tingler), props in the theater (House on
Haunted Hill) and "Illusion-O!" (13 Ghosts) to get butts in the
seats. In addition to these gimmicks, we saw presentation enhancements like 3-D
and Cine-O-Rama. We don't often get the same kind of promotional tricks these
days, but there are some things which are done to get attention. When The
Blair Witch Project brought back the "found footage" film, this got a lot of
press. Grace The Possession looks to take this idea of a new level by
incorporating an element which has become very familiar to video gamers.
Grace (Alexia Fast) is a shy girl who is newly arrived at college. As her mother died in childbirth and her father a mystery, she was raised by her grandmother (Lin Shaye), who kept a strict, religion-based household. Therefore, Grace is certainly a fish out of water in a place where drinking and sex abound. Grace's roommate (Alexis Knapp) is a party girl, and after a while, Grace loosens up and decides to follow her lead. She meets Brad (Brett Dier), and isn't averse to accepting his invitation to a party. However, Grace begins to have very vivid nightmares, which are following by horrific waking hallucinations, culminating in a breakdown. Back home with Grandma, things don't get better, and Grace begins to wonder if there is a history of mental illness handed down by the mother she never met, or something more sinister.
The conceit of Grace The Possession is that it uses a first-person perspective to tell its story. The first seven-minutes or so of the film, most of which is taken up by the credits, is shot like a normal narrative film. But, the camera then enter Grace's head and the remainder of the movie is shown from her perspective, as we see the world through her eyes. As noted above, this sort of view has been used for years in video games, most notably first-person shooters. But, this somewhat unique for movies and it takes some getting used to. (I have to admit that I get a little nauseous at times.) We see everything that Grace sees, including her blinking, and the only time which we see her is when she looks in the mirror. (Which is interesting, as there is no camera visible when she does this.) This is certainly an interesting way to immerse the viewer into the story, even if some of the moments, such as when Grace plays frisbee or participates in a tug-of-war feel gimmicky. The drawback here is that we don't get to see everything which is happening in the movie and we don't see what Grace looks like during the finale (which probably helped with the budget).
Unfortunately, the shooting style is the only unique thing about Grace The Possession. The story is your basic Carrie meets The Exorcist, as we have a young girl who was raised in a strict religious household that goes off to school and begins to have fun living like her peers (ie: discovering boys). This leads to a possession and exorcism. There are also some dramatic elements concerning Grace's past. The point-of-view style help to make the dream sequencing more interesting, but the fact that we only know what Grace knows means that the story is somewhat vague at times, especially in the details concerning her conception.
Grace The Possession is certainly an interesting cinematic experiment, but at the end of the day, that is all that it feels like. The movie gives the impression that in order to test out this style of movie-making, a very generic story was chosen. And the story certainly takes a backseat to the dizzying camerawork as Grace moves through her hectic life. It's difficult to judge Alexia Fast's performance, as we typically only hear her voice, but she is credited as one of the camera operators, so I guess she did a good job with that. The idea of a first-person feature film is an intriguing one, but I would rather see the effect used sparingly in a movie. It gives the movie a distinctive look, but it also covers up the fact that there isn't much else going on here.
Grace The Possession makes college look like a non-stop party on DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, showing no overt grain or defects from the source materials. The colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The picture is noticeably soft in some shots and it's difficult to tell if this is an issue with the transfer or an artistic choice given the way in which the story is being told. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The track is creative, as it surrounds us with the sounds which Grace is hearing, but adds additional internal sounds, such as when she swallows. This is presented through a nice mixture of stereo and rear speaker effects. The finale provides some mild subwoofer effects.
The Grace The Possession DVD contains no extra features.
Review Copyright 2014 by Mike Long