Sunday, September 9, 2012

Jewish horror story takes ‘Possession’ of Hollywood

With an oddball cast featuring Kyra Sedgwick and Matisyahu, a new thriller borrows heavily from Yiddish folklore
A rabbi's son (Matisyahu) attempts to exorcise a dybbuk, or malevolent spirit,
from a young girl (Natasha Calis) in Hollywood thriller "The Possession"
(Photo credit: courtesy of Lionsgate)
The well-known icons and customs of Roman Catholicism have borne rich fruit in decades of scary movies. Audiences have flocked in recent years to films like “The Exorcism of Emily Rose,” “The Haunting in Connecticut” and “The Last Exorcism,” to name just a few, leaving Hollywood eager to think of new ways for malevolent spirits to inhabit the bodies of young women. Casting about for something fresh, Sam Raimi (the director of the first “Spider-Man” trilogy and the “Evil Dead” series) was wise enough to recognize the potential value in Hebraic horror.

The resulting work, “The Possession” — which opened in Israel on Thursday and in the US on Friday — keeps things kosher by introducing the Old World folktale of the dybbuk box, a traditional Jewish winebox said to contain a dybbuk, or evil spirit.

With a cast including “The Closer” star Kyra Sedgwick, the film takes a bit of inspiration from a 2004 LA Times story about a man who believed he had purchased a real dybbuk box at a yard sale. Those who came into contact with the old object indeed encountered “bad luck,” for whatever reason — although other than its yard-sale provenance, that’s where the similarities between the “true story” and “The Possession” end. -- Jordan Hoffman, Times of Israel

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