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With: Shay Mitchell, Grey Damon, Kirby Johnson, Nick Thune, Louis Herthum, Stana Katic, Maximillian McNamara, Jacob Ming-Trent, James A. Watson Jr., Marianne Bayard
Written by: Brian Sieve
Directed by: Diederik Van Rooijen
MPAA Rating: R for gruesome images and terror throughout
Running Time: 85
Date: 11/30/2018

The Possession of Hannah Grace (2018)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Morgue or Less

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This demon-possession horror movie has enough good moments that it's a shame the filmmakers didn't try harder; for every effectively moody scene, there's another that's lazy, twitchy, or shopworn.

In The Possession of Hannah Grace, Hannah Grace (Kirby Johnson) is possessed by a malevolent demon and is undergoing an exorcism. When the demon asserts itself and kills a priest, Hannah's father (Louis Herthum) smothers her. Months later, Megan Reed (Shay Mitchell), an ex-cop and recovering addict, takes a job as an intake assistant in the morgue of a Boston hospital.

One of her first cadavers is Hannah, apparently rescued from a crazed killer trying to burn her body. While trying to photograph and fingerprint the body, Megan's equipment fizzles out. Other strange things begin to happen, and before long everyone around her, including her sponsor, nurse Lisa (Stana Katic) and a friendly ambulance driver, Randy (Nick Thune), are in danger. Can Megan stop the beast before it's too late?

The morgue setting of The Possession of Hannah Grace, with its motion-sensor lights that keep flickering off and on, is a wonderful idea, and it's mostly used well (though not as well as in another morgue-set horror movie, The Autopsy of Jane Doe). The creepiness factor is high, and whenever things are just about to happen, director Diederik Van Rooijen and screenwriter Brian Sieve seem to have things under control.

But when they actually happen, the camera spasms and the editing lurches, as if attempting to cover up the fact that we've seen all this scary stuff before, from jump-scares to things suddenly whisking by.

The cast is well-chosen and appealing, especially Johnson as the title possession victim, though it's regrettable that she couldn't have been used better, more practically. In real life, she's a dancer and a contortionist, and while it appears that she is doing some of her own weird moves onscreen, her character mostly comes across as an uninspired digital special effect, with added clicking "skitter" sounds — borrowed from many other horror movies — for extra creepiness.

Overall, The Possession of Hannah Grace isn't truly terrible, but could have been more muscular if it only had a bit more "exorcise."

Sony Pictures's Blu-ray release comes with a digital copy. The movie's colors are mostly muted browns and grays, but it's a strong transfer nonetheless, and the sound is excellent. Extras include two short featurettes, one that features the alive-and-well Kirby Johnson, a very short deleted scene, and "Megan's Diaries." There are also trailers at startup.

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