In one of the lesser trends to continue in 2018, we have another low-budget horror movie in theaters the week after Thanksgiving. And in typical fashion for such movies, The Possession of Hannah Grace is a slog. Which, when you think about it, is actually pretty impressive in an ironic sense given the film’s 85-minute runtime. Who knew that 85 minutes could feel like 285!
The following review will be spoiler free.
Directed By: Diederick Van Rooijen
Written By: Brian Sieve
Starring: Shay Mitchell, Grey Damon, Kirby Johnson, Nick Thune, Louis Herthum, Stana Katic, and Maximillian McNamara
After a tragedy gets her kicked off of the police force, Megan (Mitchell) is struggling to get by as she constantly battles an addiction to prescription medication. Thankfully, her friend Lisa (Katic) steps in to get her a job…at a morgue during the graveyard shift.
Though her position forces her to be alone in dark corridors late at night, Megan is happy to have something occupy her time…that is until the dead body from a victim of a failed exorcism comes to her station. As you might imagine, things begin to go awry as this mysterious body begins to prove that it is still quite animated.
The Possession of Hannah Grace Continues a Trend
Like Labor Day weekend, studios see the week after Thanksgiving as a dead zone for film. After a few days of stuffing our faces with endless amounts of starch, it appears as if studios think we’re too lethargic to go out to the theaters. Or, it’s because many high-profile movies are released over the Thanksgiving holiday. This year was no different with movies such as Creed II and Ralph Breaks the Internet. (I would have included Robin Hood as well if it wasn’t one of the biggest box office bombs of recent memory. Sorry, Lionsgate!)
Not to mention that plenty Oscar-hopeful films also begin to expand across the country, taking away possible patrons from a standard wide release. As such, we typically see a few low-budget or indie films come to theaters the weekend after Thanksgiving. Most of the time these films are pretty putrid, and guess what! So is The Possession of Hannah Grace!
Poor Shay Mitchell
For those of you that fell in love with Pretty Little Liars during its time on Freeform, I’m sure you have quite the appreciation for Shay Mitchell. As for The Possession of Hannah Grace, however, the Shay Mitchell fan club will not gain any new members. That’s not to say that she does a poor job in the film; she just has absolutely nothing to work with.
The Possession of Hannah Grace misunderstands how to create a self-serious tone, removing all personality from every character — especially Mitchell. She’s forced to act like a lifeless zombie as she walks from room to room. This also goes for every other actor in the movie, except for one side character who is so cartoonish by comparison that he feels like he’s in another movie altogether.
Screen Gems: you paid the salary of a charismatic, young actress. Use her! Let her be likable; let her become the damaged yet good-hearted person that the script desperately wants her to become. Any nondescript actress could have played this role as written.
Walking Down a Dark Corridor: The Movie!
I’m actually quite impressed that The Possession of Hannah Grace managed to add enough filler to get to feature-length. Realistically, there’s about 30 minutes of actual material in this movie with 55 minutes of characters walking down hallways with flickering lights. You can visualize the gears turning inside the director’s head as he consistently tries to pad out his script that either wasn’t long enough to become a feature-length film or didn’t translate from the page.
Take a look at this picture:
Does that look like a hospital to you? This medical center looks like a place where you would go to get sick in the first place. With absolutely nothing going on, The Possession of Hannah Grace has to create an artificial setting in tandem with a low drone sound effect in a sorry attempt to inflict fear upon the viewer. It’s trying to create a creepy atmosphere in which you’ll be on the edge of your seat as you wait for a jump scare to happen. But in reality I sank lower in my chair waiting for the entire ordeal to wrap up.
A Serious Lack of Dread
I’ll admit that Kirby Johnson as a contorting corpse that cracks loudly with every movement occasionally makes for an unsettling visual. If only her talents were used appropriately.
There’s no rising and falling action to any of the horror sequences. Weirdly enough, when the film is supposed to be at the peak of its scares, the film will cut to a sequence in the middle of its action as if the film needed to make time cuts to fit under 90 minutes and play more often at theaters during the day. (I’m on to you, Screen Gems!)
You’ve seen every attempted scare in this movie in plenty of other equally bad horror films. Oh no, the lights are flickering and the creature disappeared from sight when the lights came back on! I hope it’s not right in front of the main character making a scary face when the light flickers again!
The ways in which this corpse interacts with its victims don’t make much sense. It’ll kill some, leave others alive in inexplicable positions, and reanimate itself whenever the movie needs a quick, cheap scare or two to wake up the audience as they doze off. The Possession of Hannah Grace is a big ball of nothing.
We’ve had some pretty great horror movies in 2018 but The Possession of Hannah Grace is definitely not one of them. When it comes down to it, Hannah Grace lacks any sense of personality, drowning itself in a state of self-seriousness that removes all the fun and terror. I hate admitting as a critic that I looked at my phone multiple times to see how much time was left in the film, but then again, this movie didn’t really deserve my (or your) attention from the start.
Simply put: this movie is incessantly boring.
Thank you for reading! What do you think about The Possession of Hannah Grace? Comment down below!
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