A traumatized ex-cop finds herself trapped with a demon in The Possession of Hannah Grace (2018) – a horror film you’ve probably seen a dozen times already.
In an opening sequence of an exorcism gone wrong, a father strangles his suffering daughter. This happens only minutes after the evil living off her body kills two priests. Beholding this gruesome scene heralds a fully disturbing experience. But as hard as director Diederik van Rooijen aims for an all-grim vibe, The Possession of Hannah Grace (2018) rarely surprises or climbs higher than your average horror flick. And it’s no surprise, since the film was considered an obvious cash grab from Sony.
Troubles of The Possession of Hannah Grace (2018) begin with Shay Mitchell’s leading character
Once the prologue ends on its dark note, van Rooijen cuts to Megan (Shay Mitchell) – a young ex-cop who seeks job at the morgue. As a former police officer who just left rehab, Megan’s credibility is questioned by everyone around, however with the delicacy of a blunt hammer persistently hitting on a nail. Brian Sieve (writer of the film) creates an artificially hostile world around Megan, and Shay Mitchell visibly struggles in reading the situation as the plot moves forward. Despite her best efforts, Megan seldom acts according to “obvious instincts“, and thus Mitchell’s role is often perplexing to watch.
Furthermore, the plot is tailored in a way that Megan’s health issues don’t influence the line between reality and her mind’s projection. As viewers, we’re always entitled to the luxury of knowing what’s real and what’s not, but this luxury causes The Possession of Hannah Grace (2018) to be a lackluster story. Supposedly, Megan struggles with her trauma, yet the entire plot makes little use of that fact. In the way Megan copes with her fears I felt it’s close to The Ritual (2017), a much superior blend of drama and horror with a traumatized protagonist in the centre.
More substance, less atmosphere created in vain
For all that is wrong with the film’s protagonist, The Possession of Hannah Grace (2018) suffers mostly from its dire seriousness. Spanning across the entire canvas of the movie, the Dutch director adores this gloomy, ominous atmosphere, alas lacks the courage to go the extra mile. What’s the result? Well, deprived of truly horrifying moments, The Possession of Hannah Grace (2018) is not audacious enough to scare the crap out of anyone, nor is it climatic enough to defend its low level of scares saturation.
The stiff atmosphere does have its merit though. The production design benefits the scares, mostly thanks to the austere interior of the cement-cold hospital and the morgue which oozes a particularly nasty, creepy, and unwelcoming aura. Working in this place is no bed of roses, and its futuristic, sterile look carries a notion of dread on its own.
Despite the right setting, van Rooijen’s The Possession of Hannah Grace (2018) lacks what its close kin The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016) had in abundance. The latter horror movie, directed by Andre Ovredal, drew its power from the unpredictability of the force inhabiting a dead body that’s been brought to a morgue. Ovredal understood what makes a dead body scary. In comparison, the cadaver’s story in The Possession of Hannah Grace (2018) offers no mystery whatsoever, although the body count could easily belong to a gore horror movie.
The Possession of Hannah Grace (2018) Review
Hate Grade: 5/10
Director: Diederik van Rooijen
Writer: Brian Sieve
Starring: Shay Mitchell, Kirby Johnson, Grey Damon, Nick Thune
Music: John Frizzell
Cinematography: Lennert Hillege
Movies like The Possession of Hannah Grace (2018):
- The Exorcist (1973)
- The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)
- The Possession (2012)
- The possession Experiment (2016)
- Possession (1981)