Haunted house films are a dime a dozen these days. It seems like everywhere you look, there’s a new movie about some sort of ghost or demon terrorizing an unsuspecting family, and it can be tough to find one that rises above the mediocre pack to be genuinely worth your time. That’s why I’m glad to report that The Last Possession is one of those rare films. Granted, it’s not going to end up being one of the best movies of the year, but if you’re looking for some good new horror to keep you entertained for about an hour and a half, you’re going to want to keep this one on your radar.
The Last Possession was directed by Dan Riddle, and it stars Stephen Brodie, Cassie Sea Watson, Patricia Rae, and Tom Proctor. It’s about a family that moves into a new home, and soon after they arrive, they begin to experience some strange, seemingly paranormal phenomena. The father of the family is a very rational man, so he tries to convince his wife and kids that everything they’re experiencing has a perfectly good scientific explanation, but it soon becomes clear that this family is dealing with something well beyond the bounds of science.
Admittedly, that may sound like the most stereotypical, generic film of all time, but I promise you that The Last Possession is more than just a 90-minute cliche. Sure, the plot isn’t super original, but the movie executes its time-honored tropes really well.
For starters, the main characters are all super likable and believable, so right from the get-go, I bought into this family 100%. Granted, the acting can be a bit wooden at times, but the dialogue and their chemistry together more than make up for it. They feel like real people dealing with real issues (both normal and paranormal), so I enjoyed watching them even when there wasn’t anything particularly scary happening on screen.
What’s more, my positive feelings for the characters also made the scares much more effective. See, a lot of horror filmmakers these days forget what truly makes the genre work. If we don’t care about the characters, we’re not going to care about what happens to them, so the scares aren’t going to affect us very much.
And thankfully, the filmmakers behind The Last Possession understand that. They crafted likable characters that I easily came to care about, so I was genuinely concerned for these people. When the horror hit, I was scared for them first and foremost, and that’s much more powerful than empty imagery could ever be.
Along similar lines, director Dan Riddle also did a really good job of pacing the scares throughout the film. In the first act, the horror is mainly subtle and suggestive, so it doesn’t draw too much attention to how scary it is. Instead, it lets the story’s inherent creepiness do most of the heavy lifting, so it allows us to notice for ourselves how scary these scenes are. And as with most things in the movie world, that’s way more effective than simply telling us to be scared.
Then, as The Last Possession progresses, the scares become more and more explicit, until all hell breaks loose in the third act. I obviously don’t want to spoil anything, but I’ll just say that the last half hour or so of this film has some really cool horror. Admittedly, it doesn’t do anything we haven’t seen numerous times before, but it executes those classic scares so well that I couldn’t help but enjoy them.
On top of all that, I also really liked the mythology behind this movie. For most of its runtime, the film seems like a very typical haunted house story, but towards the end, you learn that there’s actually a bit more to it than meets the eye. Granted, this doesn’t have a huge impact on how the story plays out, but it’s a neat little twist that makes the movie feel just different enough from your typical haunted house fare to keep the subgenre fresh.
All that being said, I have to acknowledge that The Last Possession isn’t perfect. I already mentioned the wooden acting, and there’s also one more flaw I have to talk about: the look of the monster. Supernatural horror films often falter when they show you the spirit that’s causing all the mayhem, and this one falls into that same trap. The monster in this movie doesn’t look downright terrible, but I wouldn’t exactly say it’s good either. It would be more at home in a low-budget 1980s film like Xtro than in a 2020s haunted house movie, so unless you find that sort of thing charming, it’s definitely not one of the film’s strong points.
But in the grand scheme of things, that’s a relatively minor issue, so at the end of the day, the good in The Last Possession far outweighs the bad. The likable characters and the excellent horror are more than enough to make this film well worth a watch, so I’m glad to say that I can easily recommend it. Like I said before, it’s probably not going to end up on anybody’s best-of-the-year list come December, but if you’re looking for some good new horror to entertain you for about 90 minutes, you’d do well to check this movie out.
The Last Possession will debut on the Terror Films YouTube channel on March 4, and then it’s going to hit VOD platforms a week later, on March 11.