The Possessed – The Watseka Wonder

image I should have learned my lesson, but that’s what I get for giving something a second chance. I previously watched Children of the Grave which turned out to be an extremely poor documentary on children who lost their lives and their identities within the walls of the orphanages. But I was willing to take a chance and see if time and experience would let the Booth Brothers make a documentary worth watching. Sadly, that’s not the case.

The Possessed is a telling of the story documented as "The Watseka Wonder" where a young woman who is supposedly possessed, dies and then comes back to possess the body of another young girl in the same town.

Again, the story is a jumbled mess that jumps from history to present day interviews with teenagers who "cut" themselves and claim it’s possession, to a high school class full of students, to an investigation, back to historical lore, over to the emo teenagers, then back to the past. It makes absolutely no sense and turns what could have been an interesting story into something you just don’t care about. The "re-enactments" are just plain horrible and everything they discuss is complete conjecture.

At the heart of the story is Mary Roff and Mary Lurancy Vennum, two girls who suffered from what we would now call epilepsy. Roff supposedly possessed the body of Vennum after her death. The story goes into mental illness and how it was so largely misunderstood and the lack of treatment. But as we listen it becomes pretty clear that Vennum was indeed suffering from epilepsy and more than likely some form of split personality disorder. Considering almost all forms of mental illness were considered possession by the devil during the 1800s, it’s a pretty big injustice to keep following that line.

But like the other film, Children of the Grave, the Booth Brother can’t quite decide if they want to make a horror film or a documentary. They jump from events of the past and the Vennum story to talk to teenagers who cut themselves, teenagers who claim they did it while possessed. They can’t possibly have their own mental illness or psychological damage, it must be possession.

The entire film quickly becomes a farce. These guys desperately want to remake the Exorcist and bring out cheap theatrics whenever they can. After a few minutes it becomes so annoying it’s hard to pay attention let alone care about the story. I gave up before I hit the end. These guys are just feeding into the hysteria. Instead of gather facts and analyzing them for what they are, they’re desperately trying to build up demonic possession. They claim the children could read books without opening them, could see through envelopes, and showed signs of being clairvoyant. Not for one second do they try to dispel a single one of these myths. If you do a few minutes worth of research you will find this story is universally considered to be a hoax.

Clearly no more Booth Brothers movies for me. They suck.


Watseka Wonder

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