“haunted Jewish white cabinet box” on eBay. He had purchased the item at a yard sale but insisted that it had brought him nothing but bad luck, including hair loss. The box contained two locks of hair, one granite slab, a dried rosebud, a goblet, two wheat pennies, one candlestick and, supposedly, a malevolent possessing Jewish spirit called a dybbuk.”
In the movie we come upon a couple Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Stephanie Brenek (Kyra Sedgwick) who are going through a strenuous divorce, shuffling their two daughters back and forth on weekends. Serving as a metaphor for all of this familial tsuris, is the dybbuk box picked up from a yard sale by their youngest daughter Emily, who then quickly becomes obsessed with it. Once she opens it, the dybbuk that was held in it, is let out and enters her body, eventually taking it over and all sorts of creepiness ensues. Culturally, unlike “The Exorcist”, this film is not initiating a trend as much as latching onto, um, inhabiting one. Previewing every trailer prior, there was a slew of fall flix with one form of paranormal, evil entity occupying the screen after another. So what’s going on? And why now? Is Hollywood just getting ready for Halloween season, or is there something else at play? After all, the notion of a dybbuk is something out of the sixteenth century and only popularized with S. Ansky’s play first staged in 1920. Or is “The Possession” simply lending the requisite Jewish mystical color to an endlessly monetizing palette of more movie theater magic? According to Rabbi Gershon Winkler, author of several books on the subject of Jewish mysticism including “Magic of the Ordinary” and “Dybbuk”, he reports, how in the 21st Century, there is still such a strong interest in the occult and the supernatural. “In the United States alone there are more than 1500 established cults. Witchcraft covens are proliferating as are motion pictures about demonic possessions, exorcisms, and other occult phenomena.” He concludes, “Disillusioned by the state of world affairs and by his own failure to find meaning in life, our technologically complex society has placed new dimensions of stress upon the individual which never before existed. …Trapped the human creature opts for the achievement of powers outside the realm of the natural world.” If so, it’s more than a little ironic that we would search for solace to our hyper-techno-complex society in, of all places—a multiplex. What''s your take?Abe Novick is a writer and communications consultant and can be reached at abebuzz.com.