At the tail end of 2018, Screen Gems unceremoniously dumped The Possession of Hannah Grace into theaters. With Halloween a distant memory and Christmas in full swing, Hannah Grace managed a paltry $14 million and change. However, as is increasingly the case, foreign box office receipts probably turned it into a modest box office win. With clear parallels to The Autopsy of Jane Doe, is Hannah Grace as bad as its Rotten Tomatoes score suggests? Or does it offer some fun, minor scares for horror fans?
At the movie’s opening, Grainger Grace watches helplessly as two priests perform an exorcism on his daughter, Hannah. But the exorcism goes horribly wrong, and Grainger smothers his daughter to release her from the demon’s hold. Three months later, ex-police officer Megan Reed starts a new job working the graveyard shift at a hospital morgue. On her first night, EMT’s bring in Hannah Grace’s contorted body for intake. As the night wears on, Megan experiences increasingly strange events that seem to emanate from the dead Hannah Grace’s corpse.
The Possession Of Hannah Grace Knows The Lyrics, But Not the Beat
At times, The Possession of Hannah Grace flashes signs of potential. Somewhere in its trim 86 minutes, there’s a good movie, or at least some good ideas, waiting to burst out. Director Diederik Van Rooijen and screenwriter Brian Sieve clearly have watched some good horror movies. There’s the obvious references to The Autopsy of Jane Doe. Additionally, horror fans will recognize several narrative and visual tropes from exorcism-themed films. From The Last Exorcism to The Ring, Hannah Grace knows enough to crib from the the right movies.
While the movie has a workmanlike quality to it, its story and climax feel oddly perfunctory.
Though there’s hints of promise, The Possession of Hannah Grace derails itself rather abruptly. Yes, there are a few bumps and jumps that occasionally work. But Van Rooijen fails to conjure up much atmosphere or dread. Instead the movie mindlessly moves from one scare to the next, with diminishing returns. No sense of immediacy or urgency ever emerges from the story. While there’s a workmanlike quality to everything, the story and climax feel oddly perfunctory.
Familiar and Needless Backstory Detract From the Scares
Derivative film-making can be passable if there’s some visual flair or likable characters. Just as Van Rooijen doesn’t do enough to jolt the audience, Brian Sieve’s screenplay is a slapdash of ideas from better movies. Shay Mitchell is a good actress, but her ‘Megan Reed’ character is a collection of worn out plot devices. She’s the burn-out, pill-popping ex-cop with a traumatic past. in addition to its familiarity, the character backstory feels detached. Nothing Megan’s past feels compelling and ultimately detracts from the movie’s supernatural happenings. No one else in the movie ever really registers. As the titular Hannah Grace, Kirby Johnson contorts and creeps in ways reminiscent of Ashley Bell in The Last Exorcism. Unfortunately, Johnson is also let down by a weak story.
Familiar Horror With Forgettable Results
With so many possession flicks floating around, The Possession of Hannah Grace does little to stand out. Its an overly derivative and familiar supernatural horror effort that leans too closely to superior movies. Overall, Hannah Grace is an inoffensive, watchable, and completely forgettable addition to the possession horror sub-genre.