Timothy Dalton stars as Father Bowdern, the priest who battled the devil for the soul of a child. Suffering unspeakable horrors and witnessing incredible evil, he must overcome his doubts and face his fears. Based on the a... more »ctual case that inspired The Exorcist, nothing before has been a shockingly terrifying as the one and only true story!« less
Robbi C. (silverscreensilent22) from WEBSTER GRVS, MO Reviewed on 4/9/2011...
I'm sure the real-life priests weren't that polished or good-looking or capable of such witty dialogue, but these guys sure were fun to watch. "Possessed" is an entertaining dramatization of the famous 1949 exorcism of a young boy in St. Louis, MO. The filmmakers took some liberties with the real story, but I guess that's to be expected of an enjoyable Showtime movie.
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Better than expected tale of demonic possession
F. J. Harvey | Birmingham England | 11/04/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Possessed is based on the same book which inspired William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist and the classic Friedkin movie .It is not a classic ,unlike the Friedkin movie ,but it struck me as a notch or two above the usual TV movie treatment of supernatural themes.
Timothy Dalton plays the war veteran priest,a man who bears both physical and emotional scars from his world war 2 experiences in the Ardennes,and who is called upon to do battle with Satan for the soul of a possessed boy,Robbie.He does so in the face of official scepticism from the Archbishop -played with silky insouciance by the always reliable Christopher Plummer-a man more obsessed by the political (Conservative)role of the Church than by matters spiritual.
The exorcism scenes are a tad below the emotional intensity of similar scenes in The Exorcist but do carry a frisson or two and the movie is decently acted and directed.I was struck by the links made between the possession of the boy and the political climate of the time with the paranoia of McCarthyism being explicitly invoked in one brief scene.The movie takes place against the rise of the Civil Rights movement and we glimpse the beginnings of television evangelism and the concern of the Church with Nielsen ratings and image.If the truth conflicts with image ,bury the truth-or so runs the official line as seen in the movie
It wont replace The Exorcist or The Omen in the pantheon of classic possession movies but its sturdy second string material and engages interest throughout."
THE REAL DEAL!
F. J. Harvey | 01/12/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A scrupulously faithful dramatization of Thomas B. Allen's outstanding book!As a Catholic familiar with the St. Louis exorcism, I deeply appreciated the honesty and integrity of this film and the fact that it eschewed the histrionics and inaccuracies of William Friedkin's The Exorcist."
Find more of what was needed in The Exorcist here.
J. A., Lieder | Warwick, Rhode Island, USA | 05/28/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I enjoyed this film a lot more than any or all of the Exorcist films, primarily because it tends to stick a little closer to the facts in the case (yes it still throws hollywood tricks in to make it more exciting) and details more of the innner life of the priests. Timothy Dalton is great and his camaraderie with the other priest in the story is terrific. When I saw any version of The Exorcist I was always fascinated by the priests and wanted more of their stories and their struggles. This movie gives you more of that and shows them realistically faltering on their own to learn about and perform the exorcism rite. No exorcism film comes closer to the real facts (internet study shows it was not quite so fantastic as this film or any makes out) or is more entertaining than this one."
Christ Compels You
Rev. E. Antonio Hernandez | 02/21/2010
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Edited review: it has been only three months, apparently, since I reviewed this ridiculous film. I think enough time has passed to be able to critique the movie at length--and boy, does it need some critiquing!
This film, first off, is Timothy Dalton at his best, no doubts there, but he does get unnecessarily operatic. This is the true story of "Robbie", a man presently in his 60s with a family, and is the true story behind "The Exorcist". So, the subject in question can never be named publicly.
Dalton plays Father Bill Bowdern, real name, the tough WWII veteran turned priest who was called in to perform the series of Exorcism Masses for "Robbie". Though the script is rather silly, it does show a great deal of truth in exorcism, and also shows us the basic outline of the true story of this poor boy who seemed possessed by several demons.
A real problem I have with this movie is the truly stupid tone. It has ridiculous music and songs; it has some of the worst acting I've ever seen in my life; there are times when it is palpable that the actors are either scene-chewing or trying to sound like they are in that era. Well, people sounded pretty much the same in the 1940s and 1950s as they do today, so....
Another odd and disturbing thing is the attempt at humor throughout the film. Clearly it is a profound and religious drama--I'm pretty touchy about the way those things are handled. We all recall Linda Blair's head-spinning in THE EXORCIST. This didn't need any of that, but it did not need the weird levity the writers and director introduced here.
The subject of the exorcism, little freckle-faced Jonathan Malen, is also not particularly skilled as an actor. No one could have done truly well with a role like this, but I think a 16-year-old boy, with whom we could develop empathy and who could act, would have been the right way to go. So says the know-it-all critic. But I have to add, my casting choice is closer to the real thing than Jonathan.
Also ridiculous is Christopher Plummer as the archbishop. Plummer is known for bringing his own bizarre, Alzheimerish twists to roles, but he outdoes himself here. They may as well have used George Carlin, like they did in DOGMA.
Don't expect to be scared silly, because the whole story is not shown in this "Showtime Special" film, and what is shown is, well, silly. The scene with the priests striding down the corridor in their vestments brought so many of the wrong kind of movies to mind that I laughed out loud. That type of scene is one, I can tell you, that does not happen.
On the upside, the film gives some bite to the ritual and the superstition of exorcism as accepted by the Catholic Church of Rome, and is a true homage to a genuine hero, Father William Bowdern--and to his real sidekick, Father Walter Halloran (played in the film by Michael MacLachlan). Fr. Halloran is still alive today, and is sometimes a marvelous source. Sometimes Fr. Halloran won't talk.
Lastly: this case is NOT the only known exorcism in America. There was a case in Ames, Iowa in the 1920s that was well studied in seminaries, as well as a more recent case as stupidly portrayed in 2005's THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE (a/k/a "The Exorcism of Anneliese Michel"). This of course is an update of an older case, but it constitutes the third known case of exorcism in the U.S.
It escapes me why producers do goofy junk like this; it amounts to false advertizing. POSSESSED is certainly one of only two films in America based on the same true exorcism. Too much of a mouthful I guess.
It is for all of this I took 1 star away from POSSESSED.
This film will convince you that HBO, not Showtime (who made this clunker) is the place for good fact-based film."
Fascinating case, terrible movie
Robin Solsjö Höglund | Skellefteå, Sweden | 11/08/2008
(1 out of 5 stars)
"In this Showtime TV-movie, based upon a supposed real case of exorcism, Timothy Dalton plays a priest who becomes drawn into a situation with a young boy supposedly possessed.
The performances are stone serious or absurdly childish, there is no suspense to be found in the writing, effects or production design, and it left me disappointed that no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't take the film seriously. It isn't delivered in a believable way, and becomes lost in mediocrity.
I can't recommend the film, but I can somewhat recommend the book, which is at least a somewhat interesting, if not all too convincing read."