If you look at common film rating portals in the USA, the exorcism horror film ranks THE POSSESSION OF HANNAH GRACE alongside films like “Slender Man” or “Polaroid” it joins the ranks of absolutely miserable genre contributions that the world doesn’t need. But we, at least, cannot explain where this aversion comes from. We reveal more about this in our review.
The Plot Summary
When you’re dead, you’re dead. But sometimes death is just the beginning… An out-of-control exorcism claims the life of a young woman (Kirby Johnson). Months later, in the middle of the night shift, the horribly disfigured body ends up on the table at the morgue of Megan Reed (Shay Mitchell), who has just started working at her new job and is herself struggling with the demons from her past . Trapped in the basement of this eerie environment, Megan is haunted by horrifying and bizarre visions that suggest the lifeless body is still possessed by a demonic force. But is it really the corpse that is leading a bizarre life of its own, or is it the consequences of Meghan’s mental illness, for which she has already taken psychotropic medication?
Movie explanation of the ending
A morgue is an inherently scary place. After all, there are countless dead bodies lying around here. And if you then have to do night shifts just to make sure that nothing happens here, then that’s obscure simply because you ask yourself what the big deal is supposed to happen; As a rule, once people have landed there, they can’t – or rather should – say much more about themselves. Films like “Nightwatch” and its unfortunately unspeakable US remake “Freeze”, the Spanish insider tip “The Body” and most recently “The Autopsy of Jane Doe” have already proven that it can be done completely differently. Now one could basically accuse screenwriter Brian Sieve (who was responsible for the “Scream” series, among other things) of simply stealing from existing genre entries for “The Possession of Hannah Grace”. On the other hand, the films set in this setting are so limited that it can definitely be said that it is time to go back to the good old pathology setting. With their contribution, Sieve and the Dutch director Diederik Van Rooijen are enough (“Dalicht”) Although not close to “Nightwatch” or “The Body”; In the last third, “Hannah Grace” simply becomes too much of a victim of common genre conventions, which Van Rooijen cannot compensate for, even with the directorial finesse he previously displayed. But in the first 45 minutes his film is a highly atmospheric thriller that, without many jump scares, is convincing solely through the setting, the smart play with light and shadow and what it suggests but does not directly show.
Megan (Shay Mitchell) senses that something isn’t right in the morgue…
“The Possession of Hannah Grace” has a dramaturgical superstructure that is admittedly hardly convincing. The protagonist Megan, solidly embodied by “Pretty Little Liars” star Shay Mitchell, has been suffering from mental disorders since an incident in the police department and therefore starts working in the pathology department of a hospital as a career changer. They repeatedly have flashbacks of the incident in question, and the taking of preventive psychotropic medication is also suggested. Nevertheless, the change from the police service to an environment like a morgue seems implausible and the interspersed flashbacks seem arbitrary and purely for the sake of dramaturgy. In addition, as a viewer you know from the beginning from an exorcism prologue that there are supernatural things such as demons in the world of “The Possession of Hannah Grace”, so that from the time the young woman Hannah, who died in such an exorcism, is brought in, there is nothing at all What is at issue is that evil resides in this body. The question of whether Megan is just imagining all of this given her previous history doesn’t arise – at least for the viewer – for a second. And Mitchell also doesn’t express her inner conflict with enough emphasis, so that this subplot could actually be deleted without replacing it without the undeniable advantages of “The Possession of Hannah Grace” suffering.
One of these is that of Kirby Johnson (“6150”) embodied the “title heroine” Hannah Grace. Thanks to the spectacular effect make-up, it not only makes a remarkably dead impression, but also the way it moves, which makes it look as if there is not a single bone in its body, and its crazy look make the walking corpse an unconventional eye-catcher with a lot of scary potential. But it’s not just Hannah Grace herself who gives viewers goosebumps. Although Diederik Van Rooijen has ultimately only internalized the basics of horror and thriller cinema, he lets his cameraman Lennert Hillege do it (“Retrospect”) but staged so skillfully that “The Possession of Hannah Grace” is simply very, very scary in the first three quarters of an hour. All that is needed is a few jump scares (one of which is so predictable that it can almost be seen as a gag in context). Much more important than these cheap shock effects, however, is the atmospheric play with light and shadow as well as sharpening and blurring. For example, in pathology it is always dark. Only the motion detectors ensure that the ceiling lighting switches on for a brief moment when someone moves in the respective aisle. Of course, this opens up various possibilities for announcing horror without having to go straight to the stage.
Megan’s ex-boyfriend doesn’t believe the young woman when she claims that one of “her corpses” is still alive…
Here a door opens, there you see a shadow disappearing into the elevator – of course none of this is innovative, but it impresses with its minimalist structure, as well as with the narrative logic and the clever actions of the main characters – measured by genre standards, of course. The fact that a mentally unstable ex-policewoman wants to find her way back to life by looking after a whole bunch of dead people at night is, of course, a concept that you have to swallow first. Once you have done that, the characters relevant to the plot in “The Possession of Hannah Grace” behave quite cleverly. Megan always interacts with those around her in a level-headed manner, especially because she considers that the scary events could also be her imagination. The same applies to the supporting actors, who of course initially pay little attention to the young woman’s statements and then, along with her, begin to doubt her sanity when the evidence mounts that something is actually not going right here. Unfortunately, when it finally gets to the point where there is no longer any doubt about the existence of demons, “The Possession of Hannah Grace” noticeably runs out of steam. Not only does the computer effects in the finale look as if the budget had already been completely used up at this point, it simply doesn’t fit with the calm first hour, in which the horror was able to sneak up on the protagonist very subtly. Unfortunately, this further depresses the overall impression of the film, which is, on the whole, much better than what is claimed overseas.
Conclusion: The first three quarters of an hour of “The Possession of Hannah Grace” is a prime example of how a believably oppressive atmosphere can be created with few resources. In the second half, the film unfortunately devolves into a standardized riotous finale – but it remains a solid shocker until the end.
“The Possession of Hannah Grace” can be seen in USA cinemas from January 31st.