The Possession of Hannah Grace
Megan Reed (Shay Mitchell), a former cop recovering from alcoholism, starts a new job working the graveyard shift at a morgue. She has an ex-boyfriend, Andrew (Grey Damon), who's concerned about her and suspects her of stealing his Xanax pills. Little does he know that her troubles are far worse after she delivers the corpse of Hannah Grace (Kirby Johnson), a murdered young woman who's possessed by an evil demon.
The Possession of Hannah Grace doesn't tread new ground nor is it as scary as The Exorcist, but at least the screenplay by Brian Sieve keeps the plot lean and doesn't waste any time setting up its tone within the very first minutes during which a priest performs an exorcism on Hannah Grace. The brief subplot involving Megan and her ex-boyfriend is perfunctory as is the backstory of how Megan became an alcoholic. The demonic possession of Hannah Grace and the investigation that ensues when Megan starts looking at Hanna's past is the meat of the story, so kudos to the Sieve and director Diederik Van Rooijen for maintaining focus on those compelling elements. The production design, lighting and visual effects add plenty of style to the film, and it's also worth mentioning that there's some blood and gore to be found (hence the R-rating) which makes for an intense experience.
Fortunately, the editing doesn't feel choppy like Venom's editing which clearly looked like it was trimmed down from an R to a PG-13 rating. Shay Mitchell gives a decent performance and Maximillian McNamara is very well-cast as a security guard who provides much-needed comic relief. None of the characters are interesting enough to root for nor to care about, but that's compensated somewhat by the fact that the character of Megan is refreshingly more intelligent than your average horror protagonist. In other words, you won't be tempted to yell at the screen to call her stupid.
You will find some genuine scares every now and then. There are, indeed, a few cheap jump scares just as you'd expect there to be, but when the real scares show up, with the help of the cinematography, visual effects, set design and lighting, they're quite palpable. Even small details like the presence of a fly add to the creepiness. You'll also find just enough exposition to get a basic idea of why the demon is killing people. At an ideal running time of 1 hour and 25 minutes, The Possession of Hannah Grace isn't imaginative nor clever enough to rise above mediocrity, but it's nonetheless an intense, occasionally terrifying ride with stylish production design and superb visual effects.