The Possession of Hannah Grace (2018)

In theaters: The Possession of Hannah Grace (2018)

Hannah Grace (Kirby Johnson) is having a time of it in Diederik Van Rooijen’s The Possession of Hannah Grace (2018). First she’s alive but possessed by a demon. Then she’s dead and still possessed, or dead-ish, anyway, most of the time. Yes, her corpse is laid out on a slab. But every now and then it rouses itself and crawls spider-like through the halls of the morgue.

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The Possession of Hannah Grace (2018)
The Possession of Hannah Grace (2018)

It’s doing this, we eventually learn, to feed off the lives of the people that it murders, presumably so that it can stop being dead.

Our protagonist, the ex-cop Megan (Shay Mitchell), is processing cadavers on the graveyard shift while recovering from a problem with pills and booze. The movie is most successful as a metaphor for her struggle. A demon-possessed corpse that won’t stay dead sounds about right for an addiction experience. And the brooding horror is better than I was expecting. I thought I was in for jump scare after jump scare, but this is no mere James Wan rip-off eager to please the least common denominator with processed and homogenized horror-flavored food product. I like what it does with the mostly dead Hannah. She’s not undead in any conventional sense. What she is, is dead, just not full-time, which makes the moments when she’s not dead tension-filled and eerie. Vampires especially could take a few notes.

Except every time that the movie throws money at a scare, like the abortive exorcism attempt at the beginning or the part in a middle when the morgue eats somebody, the horror takes a turn for the stupider, and not just to the detriment of the audience members. Any exorcists who’d permit the victim’s dad (Louis Herthum) to stand around and watch the proceedings deserve whatever telekinetic consequences may come. I wish the power of Christ would compel them to get a better Scholastic education.