“The Possession of Hannah Grace” stars Shay Mitchell, Grey Damon, Kirby Johnson, and Stana Katic. Released on November 30, 2018, the film is about a morgue worker who discovers that a dead body is possessed by a supernatural force.
The film is directed by Diederik Van Rooijen. Halloween may be over, but that doesn’t mean the scares have to be. Serving as the only wide release this weekend, this latest horror film is determined to draw in a supernatural-loving crowd before the holiday season kicks off. Why’s that, you ask? Well, it’s because when they see the word “possession” in the title, they immediately jump inside the horror bandwagon and prepare to wet their pants with fear. As for me, personally, I just went into it expecting it to be like the other supernatural horror films. Flawed, average, and entertaining. It definitely got the “flawed” part right. The “average” and “entertaining” parts, however, is where the film failed to meet its expectations.
In case you haven’t seen the trailer for this film, the story is essentially about a possessed corpse haunting and killing the workers at the morgue, including a former policewoman Megan Reed, played by “Pretty Little Liars” star Shay Mitchell. Now, here’s where the trouble kicks in. The film does involve a demonic corpse hunting the characters, but it happens during the third act. The direction Rooijen took for the film left me feeling mixed in terms of the execution. On the one hand, it helps to build up some tension and provide some character-driven moments for the character of Megan compared to the other films with a similar genre. On the other hand, it can make the film feel drawn out for people who are expecting it to be a non-stop scare-fest. The good news is that the film is under 90 minutes long, which prevented the problem from getting worse. The bad news is that once the third act kicks in, these people would’ve already feel tired out from waiting for something to pop out and scare the crud out of them. While I didn’t mind Rooijen’s direction since he had a solid sense of creepy atmospheric settings, the overall experience didn’t come close to being another average horror film. There were plenty of opportunities that would make the story a bit more interesting, such as Megan coping from her past mistake and the psychological mentality of working the graveyard shift at the morgue, but since it’s a horror film about a demonic corpse, it decided to rely on the usual genre tropes, such as characters making dumb decisions and a few loud, yet ineffective, jump scares. As for the things that I liked about the film, I already mentioned that the atmospheric setting helps set the tone for the experience. However, when comparing it to the likes of “Hereditary” and last year’s “It Comes at Night”, it hardly makes an impact on the film’s disturbing sense of dread and helplessness. I also thought Shay Mitchell did a decent job with her performance as Megan. I haven’t seen a whole lot of her in other movies or shows, especially “Pretty Little Liars”, so this was my first time seeing her act in a film. While the narrative didn’t do her character justice, Mitchell had enough talent to make her worth tagging along. I would also give credit to Kirby Johnson for attempting to make her character terrifying.
Overall, “The Possession of Hannah Grace” is as unsettling as a corpse, but not in a good way. Despite its haunting atmosphere and a worthy performance from Shay Mitchell, this is one graveyard shift that you don’t want to take, especially when you have your own experiences working this type of shift. If there’s one thing that I learned from watching this film aside from the fact that it’s below average, it’s that working at the morgue at night is a big no-no for me. I prefer to work during the daytime. If you’re planning on seeing it, I would recommend watching it at home. Otherwise, you're better off setting up some Christmas decorations instead.