Movie Review: “The Possession of Hannah Grace”
The Possession of Hannah Grace
Hannah Grace (Kirby Johnson) is a young woman who has been possessed. Her father cares for her deeply, and wants her to get through this, but she is killed when an attempted exorcism goes horribly wrong. While Hannah Grace is dead, her father believes that the body is still possessed, and is still extremely dangerous. Her body is on the way to a morgue to be examined and processed, but her father believes that the body must immediately be destroyed, or more people will be harmed.
Meanwhile, Megan Reed (Shay Mitchell) is trying to recover from a trauma she experienced during her time on the police force. She has had a problem with drug addiction and hopes that getting a job will help get her mind off of everything. Her sponser suggested that Megan should work the night shift at the same hospital where she works. A job has opened in the morgue at the hospital. Megan takes the job where her responsibility is to take pictures and record data on the bodies that are brought to the morgue during the night. The new job has Megan working alone, the isolation was what she liked about the job, but with Hannah Grace’s body comes things that Megan can not explain. Unfortunately for Megan, this night will bring a lot more than a few unexplainable incidents.
The Pros & Cons
Shay Mitchell (+6pts)
The Lights & Scares (-5pts)
Hannah Grace (+5pts)
The Premise (-4pts)
Megan & Hannah (+3pts)
The Supporting Cast (-4pts)
Pro: Shay Mitchell (+6pts)
There is not a whole lot happening in this movie, but Shay Mitchell did a great job of capturing my interest. Her character is alone in the morgue, and while there are a handful of other characters (hospital staff members working in other areas) that keep popping up throughout this story, Shay Mitchell gets a lot of screen time to herself. A lot of screen time consists of Shay Mitchell acting alongside a dead body, but it never felt boring to me. This was mostly due to Shay Mitchell’s performance. She gave an effective performance that carried the movie, maintained my interest, and made a character who was easy to relate to.
Con: The Lights & Scares (-5pts)
I thought this concept was ridiculous from the moment that it was explained to Megan during her orientation at the hospital. The lights in the morgue are mostly operated by motion. In other words, they will turn on when motion is detected and will turn off when motion has not been detected for awhile. Now, motion activated lights are certainly not a new invention, but I was worried that the filmmakers would use this as nothing more than attempts at cheap scares. I was right. Megan spends too much time in this movie trying to get lights to turn on (often times even jumping and waving her hands in the air) and the filmmakers lazily used the concept for a couple attempted jump scares. The whole light thing was ridiculous, but I felt that most of the film’s scares were disappointing.
This is a movie filled with almosts. Megan is wandering around the empty halls of this morgue, and Hanna Grace is frequently haunting her. Megan sees things that freak her out, and she hears things that freak her out, but they rarely have any pay-off. The movie has a lot of moments that build suspense, only for the danger to disappear without any climax. To put it into perspective, the movie repeatedly had me thinking: “Okay, here we go. Here we go! ...oh wait, never mind”. It just felt like the filmmakers did not follow through with any of the scares. They just repeatedly built suspense, only to let all of the steam out of the situation.
Pro: Hannah Grace (+5pts)
I thought Hanna Grace was a decent antagonist for this movie. The movie starts and immediately shows her exorcism. From there, we as an audience definitely know that the body is still possessed (because it would not be a movie otherwise), but Megan Reed does not know this. This creates a lot of intense moments where the audience knows Hannah Grace is not entirely dead, and knows that Megan is in great danger, but Megan has no idea what she is in the middle of. Just by lying still, Hannah Grace was an effective antagonist, but she was also very powerful.
I do not want to give anything away, so I am going to be pretty vague here. That being said, I liked how powerful the filmmakers made Hannah Grace. The character is capable of a lot and, if you get caught in her path, you are certainly in trouble. The filmmakers (using effective visuals and more effective sound design) created a really good sense of Hannah Grace’s power. She is an antagonist that adds a lot of intensity to the movie, and you really cannot ask much more than that from the monster of a horror film.
Con: The Premise (-4pts)
I will keep this one brief, but I thought the filmmakers did a pretty lousy job of setting up the film’s premise. Now, full disclosure, I have not spent much time working night shifts at a morgue, but the idea, of someone working by themselves in this position, felt a bit off. More than that, Megan just started this job, so I find it hard to believe that anyone would put her on a shift by herself right away. I know, I am picking apart the believability of an exorcism movie, but the logic (or lack there of) was hard to ignore.
Pro: Megan & Hannah (+3pts)
You know how a lot of horror movies show side characters getting slaughtered, but the main character conveniently gets away from the monster throughout the story? This is obviously just because they are the main character, but the problem with this is that it feels like lazy writing and there is usually no reason for it. This movie is different. Hannah Grace is haunting Megan, but does not want to kill her. The reason for this is never explained, but it was obvious that Hannah Grace did have a reason.
I loved that the filmmakers never tried to explain Hannah’s motivations. It is a complaint I have with too many movies, where the filmmakers try to explain the monster and why they are the way they are. It takes the mystery out of the monster and usually diminishes the intensity that the monster brings. While Hannah’s goal can be assumed, the lack of certainty maintains a bit of the mystery and the intensity. I was relieved m to see a horror movie where the filmmakers do not make this simple mistake.
Con: The Supporting Cast (-4pts)
The supporting cast ended up being little more than a bunch of nameless, faceless bodies for Hannah to kill. One of the security guards was a minor comedic relief, but none of the side characters are memorable and audiences will not care about any of them. The problem with this is that the audience does not fear for them, so when Hannah kills any of them, it feels more like an action movie than a horror movie. This, more than anything else, made the horror feel bland.
Grade: C+ (76pts)
The Possession of Hannah Grace was a very typical horror movie. I did not find it to be bad, but there were things about it that disappointed me. The concept of motion lighting was something that plagued this movie. It either came across as silly, or as a lazy attempt at a jump scare (and it never achieved the desired effect). Then there was the almost scares. The movie repeatedly builds suspense only to deliver a sub-par scare at best. I was disappointed by the “horror”, but there were things I liked about the movie.
Shay Mitchell was the film’s biggest strength. She carried the movie by being both relatable and believable. It may not seem like much, but she was enough to maintain my interest in the story. Then there was Hannah Grace who was an intense, powerful antagonist and I loved that the filmmakers gave her a goal, but never explained it. I will not lie, it was far from a great movie, but it kept me mildly entertained while I was watching it.