Saturday, April 20, 2019

Movie Reviews: The Possession Of Hannah Grace

The Possession of Hannah Grace
directed by Diederik Van Rooijen
At first I thought that this was just a distaff remake of The Autopsy of Jane Doe. It certainly had a lot of the same surface similarities. Someone is left alone with a dead body and starts to have hallucinations. Eventually the person comes to believe that the dead body isn't actually dead or at least not dead in the way that we would use the term. As H.P. Lovecraft once wrote "That is not dead which can eternal lie. And with strange eons even death may die." George R.R. Martin reworked the Lovecraft couplet into his own equally impressive Iron Islander chant/boast "What is dead may never die. But rises again stronger and harder."

What made The Autopsy of Jane Doe impressive or at least interesting to me was that the viewer was immersed in the same mystery as the characters. For much of the movie the viewer didn't know that much more than the characters. This allowed the viewer to be alternately surprised and worried right along with the two coroners. In this movie however I think the director/writer took a wrong turn from the start. The first five minutes of the movie explain in detail exactly what the titular character is and what has control over her.  So there's no mystery as to what's going on. 

The majority of the movie consists of watching fake scares and people doing stupid things. Now some cynics would argue that describes most horror movies. Well perhaps. But it wouldn't describe good horror movies, which The Possession of Hannah Grace is assuredly not.

Shay Mitchell is Megan Reed, a former Boston police officer who froze during an attempted arrest and got her partner killed. Her partner also happened to be her fellow police officer and fiance's (Grey Damon as Andrew Kurtz) friend. The resulting stress tore apart Megan and Andrew's relationship, saw Megan kicked off the police force, and caused her to fall into a prescription drug dependency. At the film's start Megan has cleaned up via a combination of Narcotics Anonymous meetings and a stringent exercise program that includes running, calisthenics, and heavy bag work. 

With an assist from her sponsor Lisa (Stana Katic), Megan lands a new position as morgue attendant on the night shift at a Boston hospital. All she has to do is accept delivery of cadavers, photograph them, fingerprint them and put them in the drawers. She won't be performing any autopsies or anything like that. She's also warned not to leave the hospital or let anyone into the hospital--no exceptions. There are two security guards. The older one is clearly bored with his job and doesn't want to be bothered. The younger one is a bit horny/lonely and would like to get to know Megan better.

When the body of Hannah Grace (Kirby Johnson) is delivered to the hospital morgue, Megan breaks protocol. Later all sorts of strange and impossible things start to happen. Although the film made a decent use of darkness and quiet to set a spooky mood, the fact that the viewer knows exactly what the mystery is and what Grace is trying to do removes all suspense. We just have a generic film with jump scares and things crawling on walls.  There is a subplot of will Megan regain her courage or not. No bonus for guessing the answer to that question. This was a mediocre movie that you should skip.
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