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PREMIERE: Don’t Mock the Box. Jeffrey Dean Morgan & Natasha Calis Film THE POSSESSION

How spooky is this? One week after this throwback to The Exorcist wrapped in 2011 all of the props, including the prop antique wooden box which contained the malevolent spirit that possesses a young girl, were burned in a fire that the Vancouver police still don’t know the cause of. I had no idea even the props were haunted when I photographed Vancouver actress Natasha Calis as young Emily, buying the box at a fake yard sale filmed at a corner ranch house near Langara College.

Lesson learned. Don’t mock the box.

This horror movie presented by Sam Raimi is “based on  a true story” of terrible things that happened to real people who purchased a European antique box on eBay, as reported in the Los Angeles Times article, A Jinx In A Box.  The box in the movie is haunted by a dispossessed spirit called a Dibbuk, which is bent on taking over and then devouring Emily — hence the movie’s working title Dibbuk Box.

Of course Emily refuses to give it up, forcing her divorced parents – Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Kyra Sedgewick – to work past their hostility to save their youngest daughter. I caught one scene of them bickering at a house in Kerrisdale with Sedgewick chasing after Dean Morgan to bark a list of instructions on how to care for their girls, such as no pizza and vegan diets. If I’d returned for the third day of filming there I’d have seen some special effects scenes of wind machines blasting Natasha Calis as the Dibbuk possesses Emily.

Since Dibbuks have featured in Yiddish folk stories for centuries, Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Clyde Brennick must turn to rabbis for help to exorcise the spirit from his daughter. Crew transformed an empty downtown building into a Jewish temple with extras dressed as Hassidic Jews hanging out on West Hastings between scenes and then dressed Front Street in New Westminster as a New York street below.

And the former high school and university basketball star — who’d expected to make a career in the sport until a knee injury shattered that dream — got to play some hoops in Simon Fraser University’s central gym in between setups of scenes of him as a college basketball coach.

I met Jeffrey Dean Morgan (now starring in Starz’s Magic City) at the ranch house near Langara College on the first day of filming, as he was making plans to catch up with his former TV sons, Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki from Supernatural. I had no idea then that this easy-going star was a magnet for the kind of female fans who would steal his discarded cigarette butts on location here (funny and true).

The Possession is in theatres this Friday, August 31st.

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