Reel Reviews: Setting up the Christmas box office champ

By on December 5, 2018

‘The Possession of Hannah Grace’

While “Ralph Breaks the Internet” was breaking the box office, Screen Gems (a.k.a. Sony) tried to break into the wallets of holiday-spending Americans with a horror flick. They got me. “The Possession of Hannah Grace” opened up at a miserable seventh position at the box office, earning a meager $6.5 million — which, is honestly pretty good for the low budget flick produced for just over $9 million.

We meet Hannah Grace (contortionist Kirby Johnson) during her exorcism in Massachusetts when her father (Louis Herthum) is forced to suffocate her in order to expel the demon inhabiting his daughter. Dead-but-not-dead, she turns up months later as a victim of a brutal assault on the streets of Boston. Admitted to the morgue at the city hospital, the cadaver piques the interest of new hire Megan Reed (Shay Mitchell of “Pretty Little Liars”), an ex-police officer who is struggling with substance abuse. Things get spooky as Hannah Grace — or the demon residing in her — begins to heal herself by taking victims. Rushing to Megan’s aid are a myriad of lesser characters who all meet horrific ends, except for her ex-boyfriend and city cop Andrew Kurtz (Grey Damon). The highlight of these characters is Dave (Max McNamara) who is great comic relief in this otherwise mundane tale.

It’s not that “The Possession of Hannah Grace” is a horrible movie; it’s just that it is so blatantly meh. Blah. Whatever.

“So, that was that,” said Tom S. of Lancaster, one of five audience members when I saw the movie opening day, as the credits rolled.

What Screen Gems wanted to capture with “The Possession of Hannah Grace” was the magic practically founded by horror specialists Blumhouse: make a highly profitable flick without spending a lot of money. What they should have learned through this outing was to leave this approach to the experts. Screen Gems’ last failures, “Slender Man” (which ethically should never have been made) and “Don’t Breathe,” should have been my fair warning. The highlight of sitting through “Hannah Grace” was that I got to see Blumhouse trailers for “Happy Death Day 2 U” and “Glass.”

So, skip the horror flicks this holiday; there are plenty of other films worthy of your hard earned cash. But, if it is horror you crave stay tuned for the aforementioned sequel to “Happy Death Day” (2/14/19), “The Curse of La Llorona” (4/19/19), and “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” (no release date) directed by Guillermo del Toro (“The Shape of Water”)

John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman are the voice actors for (Wreck-it) Ralph and Vanellope von Schweetz in “Ralph Breaks the Internet.” The film was #1 at the box office this week.

The competition

As for what is showing now, Ralph (John C. Reilly) and his pal Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) have shown that a sequel after six years can still bring out audiences. Facing no real opposition to the number one spot this weekend, “Ralph Breaks the Internet” should rake in more dough for a movie my son describes as “not as good as the first,” but the reign will be short-lived.

The animated “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” opens Dec. 14, and this movie is generating a lot of buzz. As good as the new Marvel Animation movie may be it will only be the undercard for the main attraction on Dec. 21 when “Aquaman” takes on “Bumblebee” while “Mary Poppins Returns.” Those three films (plus, hopefully “Welcome to Marwen”) will be the subject of the first Reel Reviews of 2019. So, please drop me a line and let me know what you think of them.

Agree or disagree? Reel Reviews works like this: 1) Watch a movie; 2) Send suggestions, comments and criticism to Michael at

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