A young girl, Hannah Grace (Kirby Johnson) dies when an exorcism goes horribly wrong. But killing Hannah doesn’t release her from the spirit inhabiting her body. Months later, her cadaver ends up at a morgue, where Megan Reed (Shay Mitchell) has recently taken up the night shift. Megan has demons of her own – she has recently quit her career as a policewoman due to an incident that left her traumatised. To cope with her PTSD, she becomes addicted to drugs and needs to go to rehab. Megan chooses an unusual job because she has encountered enough death and gore before, so she isn’t easily rattled by the prospect of working alone in a morgue. But that changes when Hannah’s body shows up.
Megan Reed has a compelling backstory that makes her character intriguing enough. It’s easy to relate to her choices, and no matter how flawed she comes across, you want to root for her. Additionally, the creepy setting of a morgue, where Megan must work alone, also lends to an excellent atmosphere for a horror flick. Yet, as much as the film sets up its lead character and premise, it completely wastes any potential it had to be a creepy watch. This becomes particularly evident towards its third act when it ditches any pretence of being different and goes all out with the usual horror tropes that have plagued the genre overall. A jarring score, lazy camera work and sloppy editing make almost all the scares increasingly predictable, to the point when you are waiting for the possessed woman to appear on cue, and she does.
Although the cast doesn’t have anything new or inventive to play with, Shay Mitchell and Louis Herthum – as Hannah’s father – put in the strongest work. Mitchell is particularly effective in the lead role, which only adds to the inevitable frustration when the film drops the ball and commits to the usual scares that have been synonymous with the ‘possession horror’ sub-genre. It also keeps changing Hannah’s abilities as per the plot’s convenience, with the hope of keeping the audience on the edge of their seats, but in reality barely masks its lack of direction. Inverted crosses, twisted limbs, levitating bodies – ‘Possession of Hannah Grace’ throws them all at the screen but still leaves you unimpressed in a forgettable film.