One of my least favorite subgenres in horror is possession movies. Sure, there have been a lot of great ones to come out over the years (with The Exorcist being the all-time standard bearer), but if I’m being honest, when I’m looking to indulge in the horrific side of entertainment, films about possession are going to be the last thing I would choose. That being said, The Possession of Hannah Grace already had my general disinterest to contend with going into it, and other than strong performances from its two leads, there’s really not a ton else that makes this a truly standout effort. All in all, Hannah Grace is something I’d refer to as “fine,” but that’s about it.
The story of Hannah Grace follows former cop Megan Reed (Shay Mitchell), who has been struggling with addiction ever since her partner was gunned down in the line of duty, and she decides that working the overnight shift at a hospital morgue is the best way to get herself out of the house and into a routine again, all while enjoying a little peace and quiet during her nighttime shifts. One fateful evening, a corpse for a young woman named Hannah Grace (Kirby Johnson) is dropped off as a mangled and twisted mess of a body, and Megan quickly realizes that the new arrival isn’t any normal cadaver. And that’s when chaos ensues (for the most part), and it’s up to Megan to find a way to stop the evil force living inside the body of Hannah Grace before it’s too late for everyone.
I’d dive more into the plot, but I think you can pretty much guess how things go in The Possession of Hannah Grace if you’ve seen even just one trailer (or other movies of a similar ilk). When the body shows up, the proverbial weird and unexplainable stuff happens, and Megan, who struggles with a myriad of mental health issues as a result of the trauma she’s dealt with, does her best to try and find a way to put the evil to rest, even if everyone around her doesn’t believe her suspicions about there being something more happening with the mysterious corpse. In terms of the film’s scares, at the screening I went to, a few folks got a bit freaked out during several moments, but I think for the most part, most of the terror to Hannah Grace falls flat, even if it does mix up the possession formula to a degree. There are some solid ideas behind the concepts we see in the film, but I think the movie would have benefitted by having someone with a more assertive vision at the helm, because the action feels clunky at times, and there’s not a lot of tension to be found through Hannah Grace’s 85-minute running time.
That being said, I do think both Mitchell and Johnson do very well respectively with their performances in The Possession of Hannah Grace, despite there not being a ton of material for either actress to work with. Mitchell is relatable and likeable as Megan, and the vulnerability she exudes as Megan deals with her inner demons helps ground her performance and elevate the story to a fair degree. Johnson, who only has a handful of words due to the fact that Hannah is pretty much a corpse for 95 percent of the movie, has to rely on her almost inhuman natural physical capabilities to sell the creeping dread that Hannah is meant to represent on a visual level, and she does an excellent job at doing just that.
As a whole, The Possession of Hannah Grace is probably a solid spookfest for casual genre fans, but I don’t think it offers up much for those of us who call horror our way of life. Both Mitchell and Johnson provide the film with two intriguing anchors, but I do wish director Diederik Van Rooijen pushed things a little further with his efforts here. Perhaps the results would have been something greater than “it’s fine.”
Movie Score: 2.5/5