36 Possession Movies And Counting: Why Hollywood Is Taken With the Unholy Phenomenon

This Friday’s “The Hallow” marks the 36th demonic possession film since 2010 — what is the appeal over the other horror genres?

Last Updated: November 9, 2015 @ 12:00 PM

There have been countless demonic possession movies in recent years, so many in fact that since 2010, 35 movies from that genre have been released. And this Friday’s “The Hallow” marks the 36th.

Movies like “The Conjuring,” “Paranormal Activity” and “Insidious” have not only impressed at the box office, with the former grossing $137 million, but they also keep the audience’s interest in possession films, a form of horror that seems to have recently come back after slasher movies were a trend, alive.

“You have certain trends in all kinds of movies and in horror and a few years ago it was predominantly torture movies, and now it’s come back to haunted houses and possession,” said Corin Hardy, the director of “The Hallow,” which hits theaters this Friday.

This trend is more than just a flash in the pan, as it seems that Hollywood is taken by this unholy phenomenon — in fact, in the past five years, there were almost more than double diabolical movies than zombie and vampire movies combined. Since 2010, there have been 13 vampire movies, including the “Twilight” saga, and eight zombie films which include “World War Z.”

“What’s so interesting about demon movies is that it’s so other and primal and you are out of your body, it’s really scary,” said Jodi Fay, the executive producer of Destination America’s “Exorcism: Live!” which aired on Oct. 30. “It’s a classic good versus evil, triumph versus evil, in its purest form.”

Hardy agrees: “I guess the actual sort of core concept of losing your abilities and control of yourself to something supernatural that we can’t understand is tapping into the primal fears of the unknown, which are the most powerful fears of human being,” adding, “The primal fears are ultimately what drives horror.”

Diabolic possession movies are somewhat based on reality, which is why fans are more enticed by these kind of horror movies. Being possessed by the devil, to most, seems more probable than being gnarred by a zombie or meeting a vampire.

“The possession movies are based on real stories, they are about real people who might still be alive today,” Fay said. “With possession, people are so curious about what really happens.”

Fay Yu, another producer on “Exorcism: Live!” added, “In a way, vampires and zombies feel more fantastical. The movies about possession, though they are framed as very unusual and extreme, seem more rooted and real life. It seems like real people defeating an evil.”

According to them, “Exorcism: Live!” had a huge social media response with a lot of engagement from Facebook and Twitter both during the show and after it aired. The positive response reiterated the fact that audiences love anything related to demonic possession, which is why both Fay and Yu can see more possession movies hitting the big screen in the future.

“This can’t be it for us telling the great American horror stories,” said Fay. “‘The Exorcist’ was the Superbowl of American supernatural history and we have a couple more up our sleeve.”

At least one more demonic possession film is being released this year. “Anguish,” follows a young girl who has a supernatural “gift” that takes over her body, and she must decide whether this possession is good or bad. It is being released on Dec. 18 of this year.

Hardy agreed that we will be seeing more of the genre, although he thinks that filmmakers will have to add unique elements to any further demonic possession movies — something he aimed to do while making his film, which follows a family who move into a remote millhouse in Ireland and find themselves fighting to survive with demonic creatures living in the woods next to them.

“With my film, I’ve tried to create a different sort of horror film that enacted some of the classics and involves some sort of possession and mythology and folklore, and I wanted to avoid retelling the same story,” he said.

And although he also thinks that more demonic possession movies will be released in the upcoming years, he hopes that another type of horror film will make the rounds soon.

“It’s possibly overstayed its welcome,” the filmmaker said of possession movies. “I’d like there to be more monsters. Bring back the monsters!”

“The Hallows” hits theaters this Friday.

Credit: Rentrak

Credit: Rentrak