Following on from “The Grudge,” Sarah Michelle Gellar stars in yet another remake of an Asian horror pic with “Possession,” a rejig of “Addicted,” a supernatural(ish) thriller little seen outside of Korea. Dully predictable “Possession” sees Gellar looking creeped out, or maybe just bored, when her husband’s ne’er-do-well brother (Lee Pace) wakes up from a coma after a car accident with her still-comatose hubby’s personality and memories seemingly uncannily transferred into his head. Skedded for an October release Stateside, English-language debut for Swedish co-helmers Joel Bergvall and Simon Sandquist will draw in genre fans and perform well on ancillary.
A busy young lawyer, Jess (Gellar) finds her days perpetually brightened by roses smuggled into her briefcase and random love letters left for her by her artist husband Ryan (Michael Landes).
Apart from the fact that Jess doesn’t think they can afford to have a baby yet, the only blight on their perfect happiness is the continuing presence of Ryan’s creepy brother Roman (Lee Pace) in their Marin County home.
Convicted of assault but now out of the hoosegow, Roman sports big tattoos and outsized sideburns, evidence enough he’s bad news even if it weren’t for the fact that he snoops in Jess and Ryan’s things and slaps his girlfriend Casey (Swedish actress Tuva Novotny) around at the slightest provocation.
In a key exchange, when Casey asks him what he would change if he could do his life over, Roman tersely replies, “Not be me.” He gets his wish after he and Ryan have an credibility-stretching collision on the Golden Gate Bridge: When Roman wakes up first from his coma, he seems to have all of Ryan’s memories .
At first skeptical, as any sane person would be, that he’s really Ryan trapped in Roman’s body, Jess, wracked by longing for her husband, is gradually persuaded he might be telling the truth. It helps that he lovebombs her with thoughtful gestures, proving the suspicion long held by many men that you can get a woman to do anything if you just buy her flowers and jewelry.
Pic then inches towards the not-so-surprising twist ending.
Co-helmers Bergvall and Sandquist (who made well-received Swedish chiller “The Invisible” together, along with star Novotny) mostly use soundtrack spikes and sudden lunges into frame to provide mini-shocks in order to create some kind of tension. Unfortunately, screenplay is thin on action, and Jess’ subsequent behavior may soon drain away sympathy for her ultimate plight.
Called upon, once again, to look anxious and later frightened most of the time, Gellar turns in a blah perf here, while Landes barely registers until he goes into the coma. Pace (TV series “Pushing Daisies”), however, reps one of pic’s plus points, exuding sleazy charisma as both bad-boy Roman and then likeability as Roman/Ryan.
Tech package is competent but reps nothing special. Given pic’s mostly interiors-set storyline, sparing use of Vancouver to pass as Bay Area locations is perfectly adequate if anonymous.