The Possession of Hannah Grace Blu-ray Review


Derivative & Forgettable Demonic Thriller

A new morgue assistant gets more than she bargained for in this tepid demonic chiller from Sony. Starring Shay Mitchell (Pretty Little Liars), the former television star does all she can with a disappointing plot and lame frights. If you’ve seen The Autopsy of Jane Doe, you’ll get a strong sense of Déjà vu watching The Possession of Hannah Grace.

The title implies you are getting a movie about exorcism, a well-trod subject in horror filmmaking since The Exorcist. But in this case it’s really a bait-and-switch tactic by the studio. This is a movie that pays little heed to possession conventions or established demonic activity in film. What you get is a creature movie that plays by its own inferior rules.

The movie does open with a short exorcism that goes badly wrong for the possessed victim. Shortly after, we are introduced to the troubled Megan (Shay Mitchell), coping with PTSD from trauma she experienced in the line of duty. Having quit the force due to substance abuse and other issues, she’s trying to get her life back together by taking a new job at the local hospital’s morgue. The backstory is cliché city, with a concerned ex-boyfriend (Grey Damon) floating around the edges of the story.

…the flimsy narrative’s plot-holes get bigger and bigger as the final act gets under way

Locked alone inside the morgue during her first graveyard shift, Megan takes delivery of a badly disfigured corpse, a young woman’s body with major burn marks and slashes all over it. A rather tame movie by R-rated horror standards, the corpse’s gruesome appearance is just about the only thing truly earning the rating. A few choice cuts could have easily made The Possession of Hannah Grace a PG-13 movie.

Isolated and alone in the morgue, Megan begins experiencing terrible visions and starts to suspect the demonic cadaver is causing all her problems. It’s the basic premise executed better and seen first in The Autopsy of Jane Doe, with few flourishes to distinguish it from other demonic thrillers. About the only truly interesting thing going on is actress Kirby Johnson, a contortionist playing Hannah Grace’s demonic corpse. Her moves on camera are all done with practical effects, and those twisting limbs are her own natural talents.

You keep thinking something is about to happen in The Possession of Hannah Grace, only to get disappointed time and time again. There’s a lot of tease and little payoff. The real frights are few and the creature is practically given superpowers never seen before in a possession movie. Shay Mitchell isn’t the problem, but the flimsy narrative’s plot-holes get bigger and bigger as the final act gets under way.

The Possession of Hannah Grace isn’t must-see horror and feels lightweight coming from a major Hollywood studio in Sony. It is a disposable and derivative demonic thriller that wants to be a monster movie, not a possession movie. It has little interest in exploring the implications of Hannah’s demonic possession beyond drumming up some scares in security video footage. If the characters were more interesting and the scares more devastating, maybe that would have given the film’s decent tone and atmosphere the extra kick it badly needs.

Video

The Possession of Hannah Grace has solid picture quality with crisp black levels and fine textural detail. Filmed with a new Sony digital camera meant for low-budget filmmaking, the 1080P presentation doesn’t hurt for clarity or definition. The tight 2.39:1 digital cinematography is sharp and captures gruesome bodies in the morgue with abundant color. Most will have a hard time distinguishing this movie from other Hollywood movies shot with better digital film cameras.

The movie’s digital color grading avoids altering natural flesh-tones. Its color palette is mildly muted but occasionally offers a splash of brighter primary colors. Darker interior scenes hold up well. Shadow delineation isn’t crushed and ISO noise isn’t really an issue.

Sony’s transfer has no substantial issues and generally satisfies in HD. The 85-minute main feature is encoded in adequate AVC without major artifacts on a BD-50. The 1080P video has a consistent and pleasing contrast.

Audio

The 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio offers a rich, immersive surround mix with real bite on occasion. The set pieces have impressive dynamics and presence with pinpoint imaging.

Dialogue remains crystal clear and intelligible even during the biggest audio frights. Surrounds often provide a subtle and realistic environment, perfect for this kind of fare. The surround design is a step behind such modern horror classics as The Conjuring, but certainly enhances the movie’s few genuine scares.

Sony has gone overboard with a glittering array of various subtitle and dub options. The movie comes with 28 different subtitle options: English, English SDH, French, Czech, Slovak, Portuguese, Croatian, Malay, Polish, Arabic, Korean, Hebrew, Slovene, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Mandarin Chinese, Icelandic, Indonesian, Romanian, Thai, Turkish, Greek, Spanish, and Serbian.

The subs all appear in a white font which remain inside the 2.39:1 widescreen frame. Dubs include French, Hindi, Hungarian, Spanish, and Polish, not to mention an English Descriptive Audio track. All together, seven different secondary audio tracks are included.

Extras

Sony includes a Movies Anywhere digital copy which redeems in HDX quality. A slipcover is available. The included deleted scene is absolutely worthless but probably should have been included just to pad the movie’s rather short running time. These are perky featurettes with key cast and crew members on location. Seeing the make-up applied is probably the most interesting aspect of the production detailed.

A special note, Sony has loaded the disc up with trailers preceding the main menu. There are six separate trailers which play before the main menu.

The Killer Cast (06:31 in HD) – Shay Mitchell and others discuss filming the movie in this topical featurette.

The Autopsy of Hannah (06:36 in HD) – A smart look behind the scenes applying make-up to actress Kirby Johnson and transforming her into the demon.

Deleted Scene (00:44 in HD) – One inconsequential scene.

Megan’s Diaries (01:30 in HD) – Two separate “vlogs” by actress Shay Mitchell in character.

Sony Trailers (All in HD) – The Girl In The Spider’s Web, The Intruder, Patient Zero, Searching, Slender Man, and Escape Room.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

The Possession of Hannah Grace
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  • Extras
2

Movie

Former television star Shay Mitchell can’t save this tedious demonic thriller from its lame scares and timid brand of horror.

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