SCREEN GEMS (2018)

 

Director: Diederik Van Rooijen

 

Starring: Shay Mitchell, Grey Damon, Kirby Johnson, Stana Katic

You’ve seen The Exorcism of Emily Rose (probably), now comes…The Possession of Hannah Grace!

 

A trailer drops and then suddenly so does the movie, which doesn’t always bode well - especially in the horror genre. Hannah Grace is a low-budget supernatural horror that arrived with little fanfare, but sometimes that can work in a movies favour when expectations are minimal (looking at you The Autopsy of Jane Doe), So, does this deliver a heart-pounding, pant-wetting eighty-six-minutes?

 

Annoyingly, no.

Former policewoman and rehab patient Megan (Mitchell) takes the graveyard shift at the city hospital morgue – a job that, funnily enough, has a high turnover of staff – and when a horribly maimed corpse arrives, things start to go bump in the night and something evil is emanating from that cadaver. If that sounds like the aforementioned Jane Doe movie, you’d be forgiven for thinking that, however, Hannah Grace doesn’t have the same tension or mystery surrounding the story. Everything here is a bit more straightforward. After a fabulous introduction scene, the movie moves along at a nice pace but as it does, that fear and mystery crumbles away with each set piece and minute that passes – which is a massive shame as there was a lot of potential for a chilling, effective horror flick here.

 

Leading the movie, Shay Mitchell is one of the movie's highlights as her grounded, un-panicked performance helps keep Hannah Grace afloat for the majority of the time. The remaining cast are all very much supporting and pretty much dispensable – not bad, just not memorable. I enjoyed Kirby Johnson as the titular character/corpse and the makeup effects used to create her mangled appearance were very good. As for the intro, I love me a good exorcism scene (even if this is another young woman possessed) and it provided a good foundation that the movie really failed to build upon. It had its moments, the single location element worked and the sensor-triggered lights provide some background fun. The atmosphere-building scenes involving the morgue refrigerators were also quietly effective, however, when the clichés start rolling in, any power the movie may have had, or been aiming towards, falls away quickly. The character decisions, the jump scares and the VERY LOUD MUSIC THAT SIGNIFIES YOU NEED TO AUDIBLY KNOW A JUMP SCARE HAS JUST OCCURRED are frustratingly and eye-rollingly overused and the ending just kind of…happens and then that’s it.

 

Formerly titled Cadaver, The Possession of Hannah Grace ends up being just OK – and even then, that’s a fairly-sizable just. A creepy premise that lent itself to some decent promise falls apart as cliché and convention take over eventually. With more focus and a bit less show rather than tell, Hannah Grace could have been much more effective, but as it is, it’s simply OK.

November 30th 2018

© 2016 Matt Hudson / What I Watched Tonight / Essex

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