Possessed is a strangely schizoid film. It starts out seeming to be heading along the lines of a plague outbreak drama. The medical thriller scenes comes interspersed with scenes of police tracking down a firebombing priest. Anders Rønnow-Klarlund creates some good, grimly intensive scenes with hero Ole Lemmeke venturing into grave robbing in Rumania, digging up the body of a familys just buried son from their backyard in the middle of the night, and of the police pursuing arsonist priest Udo Kier. The streets of Copenhagen are shot with a washed-out realism that gives the film a fine hard-edged look. von Trier regular Udo Kier gives an admirable performance during the police interrogation scenes.
So far, so good one is expecting a plague drama perhaps with a few twists. Bizarrely enough, Possessed then jumps tracks completely and turns into of all things a Biblical End Times film, one where the plague victims are revealed to be possessed by a body-hopping Devil. What is so bizarre about this is the films move from convincingly detailed medical drama to outright B horror movie hokum with Anders Rønnow-Klarlund then throwing in all manner of nonsense about astrological conjunctions and tying the film to millennium End Times claptrap a la End of Days (1999). It is disappointingly hokey, not to mention somewhat banal. The Devil is rendered with a complete eschewal of effects, but this is something that serves to make him powerless as a threat. It turns Possessed into more of a variation on The Hidden (1987) a science-fiction film featuring people hunting an alien parasite as it passes between host bodies than anything resembling The Exorcist (1973) or The Omen (1976). The film does at least recognise some of the limitations of its low-key approach. Why Denmark? it asks at one point, in regard to why The Devil would want to choose there for his return to Earth. Hes hiding.
In his subsequent and third film, directors Anders Rønnow-Klarlund went on to make the remarkable and uniquely original puppet film Strings (2004) and followed this with the satiric dystopian How to Get Rid of Others (2007).