Repossession Starts Weak but Ends Strong

I’m always up for a good demon film. If you give me an evil spirit wreaking havoc in innocent (or sometimes not-so-innocent!) people’s lives, I’ll pretty much always be willing to give it a shot, so when I heard about Repossession, I jumped on the opportunity to review it. I was excited to check out another entry in arguably my favorite horror subgenre, so I couldn’t wait to press play on the screener.

Directed by Goh Ming Siu and Scott C.Hillyard, Repossession stars Gerald Chew, Amy J Cheng, Sivakumar Palakrishnan, Rachel Wan, and Matthew Loo. It’s about a middle-aged man named Jim who’s unexpectedly laid off from his job, and as he desperately tries to hold his life together, he finds himself haunted by some (literal) demons from his past.

Right off the bat, this film tries to get us to sympathize with Jim, but unfortunately, it does a really bad job. When HR tells Jim he’s being laid off, the rep explains that he can either resign voluntarily or be terminated. However, Jim refuses to do either and protests that he’s a good worker who deserves to keep his job. He even pleads with his boss to get her to reconsider, and when she refuses to budge, he throws a little tantrum that gets him fired on the spot.

With this opening scene, Repossession clearly wants us to feel sorry for Jim, but it breaks one of the most basic rules of filmmaking: it’s always better to show the audience something than it is to tell them. See, when Jim simply says he’s a good worker, we don’t know if we should believe him. In fact, at this point in the movie, we don’t know anything about him, so we really have no reason to take him at his word. His claim that he deserves to keep his job is just that, a claim, so it has little emotional impact on us.

A girl looking creepy

In contrast, if the film had shown us that Jim was a good worker, we would’ve been able to see it for ourselves. We would’ve known that he really didn’t deserve to be laid off, so his firing and subsequent pleading would’ve made us feel bad for him. It would’ve made him genuinely sympathetic, and that would’ve forged an immediate connection between him and us.

But the movie doesn’t do that, so the entire first half of Repossession is a real slog to get through. This part of the story is basically just a drama about Jim trying to make ends meet and it only has a couple of brief horror moments here and there. It relies very heavily on our feelings towards Jim, and since the film fails to make him sympathetic, I simply didn’t care much about him or his story.

In fact, the movie doesn’t just fail to make him sympathetic, it actually gives us a few reasons not to like him. As I said before, he throws a bit of a tantrum when his boss refuses to reconsider his firing, and when he goes home to his family, he handles the whole situation very poorly.

On top of all that, actor Gerald Chew plays the character rather stoically, so it’s tough to ever sympathize with him. And even when he does show emotion, it’s not infectious. He doesn’t get us to feel what he feels, so we have very little chance of ever liking the character. The best I can say is that I eventually got used to Jim, so even though I never grew to genuinely like him, I at least didn’t mind him by the end.

A possessed woman on a bed

That one flaw makes the first half of Repossession a pretty lost cause, but thankfully, the movie gets a lot better in the second half. While it still suffers from that same basic problem, the horror really comes to the fore in this part, and it’s quite good. Unlike a lot of genre movies these days, this one is about way more than just cheap jump scares. It has a bunch of subtly eerie moments that will leave you with a chill down your spine long after they’ve passed, and when it throws some more overt scares at you, they get under your skin in a way that a lot of Hollywood films only wish they could.

In particular, the last five or ten minutes are really good. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll just say that this part goes all out on the horror, and it’s creepy as hell. It’s super simple but really effective, so as much as I disliked the character of Jim, I was actually pretty happy when the credits began to roll.

So all in all, would I recommend Repossession? Unfortunately, no. I really didn’t like Jim, and since he’s the heart and soul of this story, that just sank the movie for me. However, I can’t quite say that Repossession is a waste of time either. There’s some genuinely good horror here, especially in the last five or ten minutes, and I wouldn’t want it to go to waste. So I’ll say that if you have a spare hour and a half to kill and you don’t have much else to watch, Repossession is worth a shot for the horror alone, but if you have better things to do with your time, then feel free to go ahead and skip it.

Repossession hits VOD on December 21.

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Written by JP Nunez

JP Nunez is a lifelong horror fan. From a very early age, he learned to love monsters, ghosts, and all things spooky, and it's still his favorite genre today.

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