As with so many movies reviewed on Absolute Horror, WITCHBOARD: THE POSSESSION happened to be on Cinemax one night when I was channel surfing. You may be wondering at this point if we reviewers have lives outside our living rooms as so many of our reviews start this way. The truth is the world needs us to watch this crap so we can review it for our loyal readers. The ladies, the paparazzi, the fans all want us out hitting the town, but we force ourselves to stay firmly planted on our couches for your sake. Having said that, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed WITCHBOARD: THE POSSESSION. That is, until it hit the one hour mark…
WITCHBOARD: POSSESSION begins with a down-and-out guy named Brian (David Nerman), downtrodden because he lost his job as a stock trader. He needs to do something soon or else his wife Julie (Elizabeth Lambert) will be the breadwinner of the house, and Brian don’t want no sugar momma. He spills out his feelings on the subject to his new friend, the landlord, who, in turn, pulls out a fancy Ouiji board. The Ouiji tells Brian: "COJ," which Brian interprets as the stock "California Orange Juice.” It’s a good thing he knew stocks. If it were me I would have said, “COJ? That means nothing!” and tossed the Ouiji out the window and the movie would have been over ten minutes into it.
Of course, the Ouiji was right and O.J. prices went berserk. Unfortunately, so does the landlord who, stating he has cancer, jumps to his death. Brian is quick to "inherit" the Ouiji and next discovers that he should invest in Coffee. He gets a quick cash loan of $50,000 for a 24-hour period from some shady loan sharks who require $62,500 back the next day! Coffee prices, however, spiral downward. Brian still has faith in this board, even after it burned him for $50 G-Bones (I’d have burned that thing up in an oven like “Rosebud”). So, inexplicably, he brings the Ouiji to the loan sharks. Smart move, Brian. The powers of the board take out the loan sharks in a great scene of genuine nastiness, which shows that there are still innovative ways to kill people.
Brian didn’t expect quite that dramatic of a result, and realizing the evil he holds, attempts to burn the Ouiji. Instead (spoilers), in a really surprising plot-twist, gets electrocuted to death. We see his spirit rise and go into a mirror. So he’s dead, right? Not quite. When his wife Julie and the paramedics arrive, Brian shakes like a Polaroid picture and comes back to life.
From this moment on, Brian is a changed man. The coffee investment pulls in $500,000, he starts wearing his hair back, being more romantic with Julie, and so on. At first Julie is happy about the change, but soon she notices some differences from the old Brian. You, savvy viewer, will of course know that the real Brian is trapped in the mirror (beats the dresser) and his body is actually possessed by the recently-deceased landlord.
Now, up until this point, I really enjoyed WITCHBOARD: THE POSSESSION. The murders were cool, there were some interesting plot twists, and it slyly and seamlessly changed protagonists from Brian to Julie about half-way through. But, then, it totally lost me and this movie just dropped off a cliff.
All of a sudden, it shifted focus to a ridiculous premise involving voodoo dolls, powerful rings, and the like. Worst of all, these low-budget horror movies find the need to end with a huge special effects fest. Unfortunately a low-budget movie is exactly that, which is why the special effects, as in WITCHBOARD: THE POSSESSION, usually suck the big one. The last time I saw special effects this shoddy it was in those LAND OF THE LOST movies with the clay-mation dinosaurs. Bad special effects can be funny, but in this film they were just sad. Why do you make me cry WITCHBOARD movie?
WITCHBOARD: THE POSSESSION is ultimately a disappointment. It was on the right track for a long time and should have stayed with the gruesome murders and sex stuff, just like any good B-horror movie. Instead, I felt like the dumber twin brother of Nicholas Cage in ADAPTATION took over the writing halfway through. It's such a heartbreaker to see a decent movie go awry. I wouldn't rent it, but if it’s on cable or something, watch the first hour, then make up your own ending. Or ask your baby brother, for I'm sure he could come up with a better ending than these guys did, even if he only responds, "gah gah."
Rating: First half of movie: *** and a half (out of four). Second half of movie: * (out of four).