When it comes to demonic possession, most movies portray the initial effects of said possession. It’s become common place for films to focus on the character and their encounters with an evil force bent on taking over their body. Rarely do we ever see what happens after the exorcism, or what happens if the exorcism is unsuccessful. This is the subject of The Possession of Hannah Grace, which attempts to explain what happens after a failed exorcism.
After being released from rehab, recovering drug addict Megan Reed (Shay Mitchell) takes a job working the graveyard shift at the city morgue. One night while on duty, Megan receives the corpse of a badly mutilated girl named Hannah Grace (Kirby Johnson). Unknown to them, Hannah was the subject of an exorcism some time prior, which resulted in her death. Soon, Megan begins seeing some strange things caused by the demonic presence that still inhabits Hannah’s body, and it’s set its sights on her.
When it comes to these kinds of horror films, I’m always hopeful that this time, they might do something different. It’s easy for them to slip into clichéd territory. Unfortunately, this is not that kind of film. As much as I wanted to think that, for once, they would develop their concept, The Possession of Hannah Grace’s attempts to act different from other films often feel as mundane as its dime store title.
The film’s lead, Shay Mitchell, seemed more than capable of carrying the film herself, seeing as how she came off of Freeform. She seemed up to the task, and gave a decent performance. The problem was that her character wasn’t all that developed beyond the past drug use problems, which we’ve seen so many times before. If they were going to make a compelling character, they could’ve given her a better backstory.
Probably one of the best things about this film was it’s production design. The hospital had a unique look that worked with the atmosphere. It felt like a twisting maze that helped build up the tension. The atmosphere was another aspect of the film that was done well. Despite relying on shopworn jump scares, there was a genuine sense of dread that the movie built up along the way. It looses it for the most part, but when it’s built up, it’s quite effective.
Unfortunately, whatever potential this film had is squandered by it’s rather pedestrian execution. As I sat through this film, I was able to predict what was going to happen next or who was going to die next. The moments of foreshadowing and exposition were so obvious that I was able to put together various points of the story way before they ever happened. Sure, there were moments that I couldn’t predict, but there weren’t enough of them, and they were so insignificant to the plot that it didn’t feel like that much of a surprise.
The Possession of Hannah Grace had the chance to be something different in the possession sub-genre of horror, and had an actress more than willing to do the job. Unfortunately, its lack of a good story or fresh scares end up making the film feel like less original than what it wants to be. It spends most of it’s time saying it’s not just a film about an exorcism, but that’s not enough to make it a total reinvention of the concept.