A lot of us have watched possession movies like The Exorcist, which was perhaps the greatest demonic possession movie of all time. It’s universally loved and hated. Some think it’s perfect and others think it’s too real or scary. For me, my first demonic viewing was something I saw on TV… the classic Richard Pryor skit on SNL where they re-created The Exorcist. To this day, I’ll still reference that skit when talking about this subject.
However, this isn’t the only demonic possession movie out there. There are so many more, but how does one choose their favorites? I think I’ve figured it out, and now I’m here to tell you my top five demonic possession movies. This isn’t in any way a countdown or anything. They are all number one on my list.
The V/H/S 2 (2013) segment, “Safe Haven”
Directed by Gareth Evans (The Raid: Redemption 2011)
As far as found footage films, this one is a movie that was creepy beyond words. V/H/S 2 is, by far, one of the very few films in this FF subgenre that really delivers on the fear factor, and Gareth Evans’ segment, “Safe Haven,” has a way of mixing vivid imagination and gore. This is the longest story in the anthology with a running time of 30 minutes, and it focuses on a terrifying cult group. We go down this rabbit hole that feels like an actual documentary or even a first-player video game. The third part of the story heightens the intensity on this roller coaster ride that feels so real. We don’t get time to breathe, and when we finally do, it’s too late. We’re left in shock by what we just saw. When it comes to demonic possession film recommendations, this one is always on the top of the list. I strongly urge to watch this movie at night.
Directed by Jaume Balaguero (Sleep Tight 2011) and Paco Plaza (Veronica 2017)
This is a film that I followed for quite some time and was grateful to find a copy when it first came out. This is a found footage film that doesn’t rely on the usual FF tropes where everything is left up to the imagination, and instead, they actually show the horrors. Fans were quick to say, “Oh, it’s another zombie movie.” Honestly, I can understand the confusion, but in reality, [REC] is about demons and possessions, especially when we get to the end which feels like we’re playing a game and this is the Final Boss.
Food footage films can be a huge hit or miss for me, but this ones feels almost too real. It’s unsettling to see the effects, which are done so well. You don’t see any flaws in the work from the FX team. The story itself is a familiar piece of horror mixing elements of lore from the past, and the film has spawned four sequels. Each carries a different feel and vibe to them, although I would say chapters one and two go together while three and four are two different stories, but they’re all connected in the end. The movie is in Spanish. However, you will still appreciate the movie where you can tell what’s going on based on the actions of the scene.
Drag Me To Hell (2009)
Directed by Sam Raimi (Evil Dead 1981)
I’ll be the first to admit when I’m wrong. I didn’t like Drag Me To Hell the first time I watched it, but upon giving it a second viewing, I really enjoyed it, and now I feel that it deserves a place in my top five demonic possession films. From the terrifying opening sequence to the last scene, this movie proves that Sam Raimi still has it. Drag Me To Hell pulls no punches in an era of Hollywood horror films where there’s almost always a happy ending after defeating the evil. Sam goes old school with his camera. His gags are right up there with the gross-out stuff we’ve been so accustomed to. CGI can sometimes hurt a movie, it can help it quite a bit, although I still love practical effects. Sam does a great job with both kinds of FX work. The film’s ending does have one effect that still terrifies me to this day. If you haven’t seen it, I strongly urge you to watch it. I do wish that I had seen it with a crowd to get that first initial reaction to this terrifying finale.
Director: Bob Logan (Meatballs 4 1992)
Honestly, Repossessed is a movie that deserves more credit than it gets. It came out in 1990, years before the Scary Movie franchise. Surprisingly, it does a great job at being an unofficial sequel to The Exorcist. There’s really no gore here, but there is a pretty good plot. Plus, there’s the veteran character actors who did a great job putting forth an effort. They all seemed to have a good time, and the jokes are funny. It’s the kind of demonic possession comedy horror that you would find on late night cable TV. Yes, it’s a bit risque, but the humor softens it down to where it’s all forgivable. I’ve always felt that most horror comedies are a great foundation for people who want to start watching horror. Linda Blair comes back as the demonic force battling a priest named Father Jebedaiah Mayii (get it? Father May I?) played by Leslie Nielsen. Leslie has shown he’s capable of many roles, so bringing him back in a horror comedy just works.
Opera Mortem (1973)
Directed by David Fleas
Opera Mortem is one of the most insane and intense demonic possession films I can think of. The film was pieced together in the ’70s and ’80s. It’s hard to determine what era is being shown, although everything blends together nicely, keeping you glued to your seat watching the images unfold like a living nightmare. You sit paralyzed with interest while wondering… is this real? Artist/Filmmaker David Fleas claimed this was a haunted movie. I know I become more and more invested as I watched, falling down the rabbit hole of this demonic possession film. There are movies that stay with you for a long time. This one is now branded onto the back of my eyes. There are raw images and elegant literary quotations galore. It’s a surrealist/dadaist movie that intertwines the death visions of a suicidal girl with those of a necrophiliac serial killer. But when watching it, you lose yourself.
Opera Mortem was only shown once at a film festival never to be seen again until recently. With natural sound and no dialogue, you feel like a detective watching a tape from a crime scene trying to find information about a killer. WARNING: if you don’t like horror, then you’ll be mortified beyond words watching this. But if horror is your thing, then this flick is sure to stick with you.
This wraps up my list of top 5 demonic possession horror films. Is your favorite on the list? What did I forget? Let me know in the comments!