Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Starring: Odette Yustman
Director: David S. Goyer

From the second we first see Casey Beldon (Yustman), it's obvious that something is terribly amiss. Jogging along a lonely park path, she has a bizarre encounter that chills her to the very core. Casey is being haunted by a dybbuk, a malevolent entity of Jewish folklore that has passed from this plane of existence, yet hasn't been allowed entry into the afterlife. Its sole mission is to gain reentry into our world by inhabiting human bodies. Less powerful dybbuks have the ability to possess the dead, but the stronger they become, the more likely they are to possess the living as well. When Casey's left eye starts changing color, a doctor informs her that such occurrences aren't uncommon in twins, and she begins looking into her past in an attempt to discover the truth about her origins. That investigation leads her all the way back to the mental hospital where her mother died, and into contact with a Holocaust survivor who may hold the key to unlocking the mystery that began in an operating room in Auschwitz. Enlisting the aid of the skeptical Rabbi Sendak (Gary Oldman) in order to comprehend the true powers of the dybbuk, Casey attempts to protect her friends from the murderous ghost while figuring out a way to defeat it. But the closer Casey comes to understanding the dybbuk's power, the more powerful -- and threatening -- the malevolent spirit becomes.

It is populated by a fairly talented cast that includes the likes of Oldman, Jane Alexander, and Carla Gugino, but none of them are given much to do since the true star of the film is the special effects. The surrealistic imagery is deeply unsettling from the opening scene, and only gets more intense as the movie gains momentum. And while the film isn't graphic in traditional cinematic terms, it bombards us with a steady stream of deeply horrific images that seem to be birthed from the darkest depths of the imagination. From ghostly kids to knife-wielding youngsters, skittering creepy-crawlies, and contorted monstrosities that seem inspired by John Carpenter's The Thing, we're witness to any number of unsettling creatures and concepts over the course of the film's short running time. As a result, it never feels compromised despite its more audience-friendly rating. And what more could a horror fan ask for than a spook-fest that feels pure in its intentions while taking full advantage of every opportunity to scare us silly? (86 mins.)

My Rating: *1/2

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