The moment in The Possession of Hannah Grace that you can start to surmise just how bad of a time you’re going to have comes early on, in which we’re treated to an establishing shot of Boston City Hall, a landmark of brutalist architecture well-known to plenty of people, that’s been slathered with CGI posters touting it as a hospital. Yes, the entire film is set within the now “Boston Metro Hospital,” and somehow it manages to be significantly less scary than applying for a moving truck parking permit on September 1. It is, well, dull, but not in a particularly fun way, being the kind of horror movie that’s dropped unceremoniously a month after Halloween in order to fill a release schedule gap.
A shameless rip-off of the not-great-but-instantaneously-better-in-comparison The Autopsy of Jane Doe from 2016, The Possession of Hannah Grace opens on an exorcism gone wrong, in which a possessed young woman named — you guessed it — Hannah Grace (Kirby Johnson) kills a priest and nearly strangles another one before she finally gets murked by her dad (Louis Herthum). Three months later, a newbie mortician (Shay Mitchell) working the graveyard shift at the above-mentioned Boston Metro Hospital, gets a strange delivery — Grace’s badly mangled nude corpse, which has stab wounds and burns all over it. She attempts to take photos of the body, and her camera fails. She tries to fingerprint it, it won’t register the fingerprints in the database. Soon enough, really weird shit starts happening, and the body count begins to stack up, as our mortician lead and Grace’s father makes a last-ditch attempt to prevent his daughter from rising up from her grave and wrecking havoc all over the hospital.
Anyways, it’s not great. The characters are thinly realized, outside of our disgraced former cop protagonist, given the same stupid backstory that every other cop in genre pictures gets nowadays: she didn’t shoot a crook in time, and her partner died because of that, and she’s dealing with capital-g Grief. Equally enigmatic is the titular Hannah Grace, who we never get a good grasp on before she’s possessed by whatever entity — seriously, the demon doesn’t even get a goddamn name here — and most of her purpose here as a source of horror is to awkwardly contort and crack her bones a bunch. If you’re a person who hates it when their significant other cracks their knuckles, you’ll probably get more milage out of this movie that the filmmakers could have hoped, because every goddamn scene is like a bowl of Rice Krispies: snap, crackle and pop. Oh, she’s also a Jean Grey-level telepath, able to lift people off the ground and stuff before breaking them down, so there’s that. It’s a handy way to try and straddle that PG-13 that the studio must have hoped for until it became clear that they were getting an R no matter what, and the kills suffer because of this.
But beyond that, The Possession of Hannah Grace is just totally inept on a bare-bones cinematic level. The scenes don’t flow together — they feel like they were sloughed off of the page like a foot file removes dead skin — and it’s all over the place tonally, which will inspire a kind of laughter that one is sure that the director, Dutchman Diederik Van Rooijen, didn’t intend, perhaps as a way to alleviate the boredom at the heart of this experience. But, in summary: It’s not scary, it drags (which makes its 86 minutes seem a hell of a lot longer than they actually are), it insults its viewers’ intelligence, and it should have probably made its way to a shitty streaming service instead of actually hitting screens, where it will undoubtedly land anyways to provide not-too-controversial background noise at your Halloween party next year. That is, until your friends make you turn it off because your TV’s started to cry blood because it’s being forced to display this garbage.