Synopsis: When a student takes on a theology project, he taps into another side that had been hidden away from him.
Release Date: December 6, 2016 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Horror, Thriller
Next to zombies, exorcisms are the most overused and abused horror movie trope. Every month it seems as if a new movie with the word “possession” is released. This month’s offering is The Possession Experiment.
The Possession Experiment is about a college student named Brandon Jenson (Chris Minor) who decides to do his theology class project on demonic possession. While researching a particularly horrific case, he gets the hair-brained idea to go through a demonic possession himself. After a viral crowdfunding campaign covers his costs, Brandon enlists the help of his stoner lab partner Clay Harper (Jake Brinn) and a hot medical student named Leda Morgan (Nicky Jasper) to tempt fate and summon a demon into his body. Of course, things go bad very quickly.
Maybe it’s because of the over-abundance of horror movie tropes or maybe it’s just the inconsistent production values, but The Possession Experiment seems like a feature-length student film. Most of the credit (or the blame, depending on how you look at it) for the production goes to Scott B. Hansen (Monumental), who co-wrote (with help from Mary Dixon), directed, executive produced, co-edited (with Robert H. Chapman), and photographed the movie. It’s not quite a one-man show, but it is, for better or worse, a singular filmmaker’s vision.
The Possession Experiment is a terribly schizophrenic movie. The entire concept of a student inviting a demon to possess him for a school project is an intriguing one, and the set-up is pretty effective, melding bits of faux-documentary and traditional filmmaking in a way that doesn’t let the viewer get bored with either style. There’s even a pretty cool twist in there, even if it does come way too early in the movie for it to be a jaw-dropper. Oh, and horror legend Bill Moseley (who is either Chop-Top Sawyer or Otis B. Driftwood, depending upon the viewer’s age) shows up for a blink of an eye as well. So, The Possession Experiment isn’t a complete waste of time. However, it’s not going to win any awards, either.
There are some uneven sections of the film, areas where it feels as if it had no direction (or in some places, not even a script), just a camera rolling on actors improvising. The three lead characters are portrayed well, but most of the supporting actors are horrible (Brandon’s roommate and his theology professor come immediately to mind). At times, the movie leans too heavily on the standard horror archetypes (it seems as if every other scene is a “just a dream” segment). And, most unforgivably, after the great setup, the film devolves into just another typical exorcism movie, which is quite a letdown after the unique buildup.
In short, The Possession Experiment is exactly the movie that one would expect a movie with the word “Possession” in its title. Not bad, but not groundbreaking, either.
Like zombies, exorcisms stopped being scary years ago, so The Possession Experiment isn’t very frightening. Aside from a few cheap, albeit effective, jump scares, there’s not much to fear. After the first act, it’s a run-of-the-mill exorcism movie, so there’s not much there that hasn’t been done before, and even the fun surprises seem a little trite. Unless you suffer from an abnormal fear of demonic possession or something like that, The Possession Experiment won’t follow you home, hide under your bed, or give you nightmares.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Scott B. Hansen
- Producer(s): Todd GrubbsTodd SlaterLuis M. Tejada
- Screenwriter(s): Mary J. DixonScott B. Hansen
- Cast: Chris Minor (Brandon Jensen)Jake Brinn (Clay Harper)Nicky Jasper (Leda Morgan) Kt Fanelli (Tracy Crowell)Bill Moseley (Father Mark Campbell)Mark Joy (Michael Scott)Rachel Faulkner (Brittney)Greg Travis (Jordi)Dallas T. Taylor (Officer Cahill)Scott Mielock (Rochard Crowell)Rocky D’Alonzo (Professor Tucker)Ryan Ware (Colby)
- Editor(s): Robert H. Chapman
- Cinematographer: Scott B. Hansen
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer: Brittany Chewning
- Casting Director(s): Rachel Lang
- Music Score: Dick Ehlert
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA