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Jessica Alba (#110 of 2)

Poster Lab: The Possession

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Poster Lab: <em>The Possession</em>
Poster Lab: <em>The Possession</em>

If you find yourself compelled to purchase the poster for Lionsgate’s The Possession, and need a clue about what to hang beside it, look no further than the fine print atop the film’s title. The latest body-snatching thriller to court an audience that keeps on buying tickets, The Possession is presented and produced by Sam Raimi, and its icky one-sheet is a retread of that for Raimi’s own Drag Me to Hell, with the volume pumped up to full gross-out decibels. No need to employ the scaly hands that delivered Alison Lohman to Satan; young Hannah (Madison Davenport) has a taloned creep right inside her person, who can ship her soul to hell without even opening up the earth.

The Possession poster isn’t anywhere near as handsome as its counterpart. It trades ironic gleam for what is believed to be heebie-jeebie envelope-pushing, presenting an anatomical nightmare that makes one gulp and shudder. But the truth is, this poster, albeit strikingly macabre, is far more disciplined than defiant. Unremarkable in every way beyond its specific bodily harm, it joins an overstretched line of ads that routinely showcase shocks, which shuffle through a bland template like a stomach-turning slideshow.

Tribeca Film Festival 2010: The Killer Inside Me

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Tribeca Film Festival 2010: <em>The Killer Inside Me</em>
Tribeca Film Festival 2010: <em>The Killer Inside Me</em>

Writing in 1998 about the early films of British director Michael Winterbottom, critic Michael Atkinson described the filmmaker’s work as being “shot and cut like a heart attack.” He was referring to the “acidic, uncompromising” quality he found in Butterfly Kiss, Jude, and Welcome to Sarajevo, which he claimed made these exercises in overfamiliar genres “seem so new you feel as if you’re inventing them with your eyes, right now.” While, in the decade-plus since Atkinson’s article appeared, Winterbottom has continued to make startling, inventive films that often rethink familiar forms, there’s little in that critic’s evaluation that one could meaningfully apply to the director’s latest effort, The Killer Inside Me. Adapting Jim Thompson’s novel into a stylish if conventionally minded genre piece, Winterbottom’s period psychological thriller features two scenes of startling violence, but they’re far more unpleasant than shocking, light years from the meaningful jolts that enliven the best of his work.