Movies

Movie review: ‘The Possession of Hannah Grace’

Former cop plays cat and mouse with a demon-corpse on a graveyard shift

By Rick Romancito
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 12/8/18

Possession is nine tenths of the law, according to the old maxim. That apparently also applies to a particularly hellish demon who snags a human body and won't let go even after death.

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Movies

Movie review: ‘The Possession of Hannah Grace’

Former cop plays cat and mouse with a demon-corpse on a graveyard shift

Posted

Possession is nine tenths of the law, according to the old maxim. That apparently also applies to a particularly hellish demon who snags a human body and won't let go even after death.

In the new paranormal horror flick, "The Possession of Hannah Grace," the demon is never really named nor has a history that is explained. All that matters is that a young woman died as the result of an exorcism gone bad and that the demon kinda stuck around.

Even though the movie is named after her, Hannah Grace (played by dancer-contortionist Kirby Johnson) is really not the main character in this piece. It's a woman named Megan Reed (Shay Mitchell) who has just taken a job as a morgue assistant at a Boston hospital, get this — for the night shift.

Cue ominous music.

Megan has baggage. Not valises and totes, but "issues" of the sort involving therapy and AA sponsors stemming from when she was a cop. Now, this poor damaged woman has taken a job that puts her in a morgue, alone, all night long, with dead people.

Cue ominous music again.

Director Diederik Van Rooijen constructs his movie like a video game. After a violent prologue that shows the exorcism, we cut to Boston three months later and follow Megan as she gets interviewed and starts her first day, excuse me, night on the job.

Like a game, we are provided a set of instructions and proper dos and don’ts. For instance, all the lights are on motion sensors, so when you walk into a room, the lights may turn on automatically, or they might not, forcing you to wave your hands over your head to get them to turn on. Also, when she receives a corpse, she takes an elevator to the basement loading dock and opens the door for the ambulance driver, but she is forbidden from leaving the premises.

Once in the morgue, she must photograph its injuries, take its fingerprints and see if the prints match anyone in the police database. Then, she puts it into a storage freezer and finishes the paperwork. Her job is to basically babysit the corpses all night. She is told the job has its hazards. It’s boring. It’s tedious. And, you can go crazy because, well, you’re surrounded by dead people and any mysterious sound can freak you out.

So, now that we know the rules, the badly mangled body of Hannah Grace is brought to the morgue.

Back in the day, William Friedkin’s groundbreaking horror film, “The Exorcist,” scared the heck out of audiences by exploring the plausibility of an ancient battle between God and the Devil set in a pragmatic modern urban setting. That was scary enough, but it also brought to the surface philosophical issues attendant to this struggle amid the lives of a priest who questions his faith and a possessed girl's mother who has none.

This movie, like a lot of other possession-style films, treats its subject as merely a set of plot devices that contain little fervent allegory, but which easily employ the shorthand established by Friedkin’s movie to add the color of authenticity. “The Possession of Hannah Grace” works hard to take us through a well designed “Ghost Hunters”-style amusement ride, but depth is not a strong suit here.

Tempo grade: C

“The Possession of Hannah Grace” is rated R for gruesome images and terror throughout.

It is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

Also showing in Taos

Free Solo

MPAA rating: PG-13 for brief strong language

Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres

From award-winning documentary filmmaker E. Chai Vasarhelyi ("Meru") and world-renowned photographer and mountaineer Jimmy Chin comes National Geographic Documentary Film's “Free Solo,” a stunning, intimate and unflinching portrait of the free soloist climber Alex Honnold, as he prepares to achieve his lifelong dream: climbing the face of the world's most famous rock... the 3,000-foot El Capitan in Yosemite National Park — without a rope.

Celebrated as one of the greatest athletic feats of any kind, Honnold's climb set the ultimate standard: perfection or death. Succeeding in this challenge, Honnold enters his story in the annals of human achievement. “Free Solo” is both an edge-of-your seat thriller and an inspiring portrait of an athlete who exceeded our current understanding of human physical and mental potential. The result is a triumph of the human spirit.

It is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

There is no film this week only at the Taos Community Auditorium.

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