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Fox Tuesday Night Movie the Possession of Michael D.

Fox is warning everyone not to see this imported Canadian tingler alone, but it'll be tough getting anyone to share popcorn for this one. All the trappings -- trances, nightmares, behavorial changes, eerie music, spontaneous fires -- have been invoked, but it's pretty thin going: Fire, brimstone and old hat.

With:
Cast: Stephen Lang, Sheila McCarthy, Michael Riley, Phylicia Rashad, Roger Rees, Don Francks, Cecilley Carroll, Vernon Chapman, Peter MacNeill, Diane D'Aquila, Tracey Cook, Ron Lea, Nicky Gaudagni, Bernard Behrens, Richard Chevolleau, Ryan Gifford, Linda Goranson, Brittany Madgett, Max Piersig, Sarah Sahr, Mishu Vellani.

Fox is warning everyone not to see this imported Canadian tingler alone, but it’ll be tough getting anyone to share popcorn for this one. All the trappings — trances, nightmares, behavorial changes, eerie music, spontaneous fires — have been invoked, but it’s pretty thin going: Fire, brimstone and old hat.

Soon-to-be-married Michael (Stephen Lang) and Jenny (Sheila McCarthy, whose naturalism shines in this wicked world) have moved with her young daughters and a puppy into an old farmhouse. Michael begins having bad dreams and Jenny begins having doubts; seems there’s more to the deaths of Michael’s parents than has surfaced.

A priest marries them in a Catholic church. Michael experiences odd things — hallucinations, flashing lights, a bloody towel. He and Jenny consult with psychiatrists, psychologists, grad students, everyone but a tree surgeon. Or a religious figure.

The special effects aren’t that arresting; Lang’s not that convincing as he swims between wakefulness and trances. Michael’s ex-wife (Tracey Cook) had ankled the marriage after discovering that the man is a walking poltergeist; Jenny plans to make this marriage stick, and the devil take the hindmost.

Phylicia Rashad as a right-on psychiatrist gives authority to her role, while Cook’s cynical ex-wife entry is a plus. Michael Riley is OK as a parapsychologist, and Roger Rees is fine as a hypnotist.

Director Michael Kennedy works up some scary moments, but for the most part the vidpic’s bland because the parapsychological tricks have been done to death elsewhere. While scripter Ronald Parker offers good dialogue, the underlying concept is too pat.

Camerawork by Manfred Guthe is serviceable but tame for such an outing; Robin Russell’s editing is OK. John McCarthy’s score helps the cause, and designer Wendy Morrow has worked up excellent surroundings, making Jonathan Hackett’s production look like it’s available for a more credible spooking.

Fox Tuesday Night Movie the Possession of Michael D.

(Tues. (2); 8-10 p.m.; Fox)

Production: Filmed in and around Toronto by Atlantis Films, Flashner/Gernon Prods. and CTV TV Network Ltd. Exec producers, Peter Sussman, Ed Gernon, Graham Flashner; producer, Jonathan Hackett; director, Michael Kennedy; writer, Ronald Parker.

Crew: Camera, Manfred Guthe; editor, Robin Russell; production designer, Wendy Morrow; art director, Gordon Barnes; sound, David Lee; music, John McCarthy.

With: Cast: Stephen Lang, Sheila McCarthy, Michael Riley, Phylicia Rashad, Roger Rees, Don Francks, Cecilley Carroll, Vernon Chapman, Peter MacNeill, Diane D'Aquila, Tracey Cook, Ron Lea, Nicky Gaudagni, Bernard Behrens, Richard Chevolleau, Ryan Gifford, Linda Goranson, Brittany Madgett, Max Piersig, Sarah Sahr, Mishu Vellani.

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