The film was bashed by critics upon release because of the disturbing scene where a young boy is forced to strip. In a 2004 Entertainment Weekly article author Stephen King cited the movie while addressing issues of censorship. King said had The Possession of Joel Delaney been released today it would be rated NC-17 for that scene alone. See more »
This is a sharp supernatural thriller worth seeking out. The pace may be a little slow for some, but those who are patient will be pleased with the use of their virtue. Shirley MacLaine plays a Manhattan socialite who realizes that her brother has in some way changed. For example he now practices the Santaria religion, he speaks very good Spanish, and his health is not quite the same. MacLaine is then warned that her brother may be slowly becoming possessed by the spirit of a Spanish decapitator. Not knowing what or who to believe, she dives into the world of the Santaria faith in an attempt to get some answers on what is happening to her brother. As time goes on, the danger increases and getting the answers she seeks may prove to be fatal. Director Warris Hussein does a good job in building the suspense for the viewer and creating a frightening atmosphere to those who are not familiar with Santaria. The performances, lead as well as supporting, are first rate especially Perry King (who plays the brother) who is truly frightening towards the film's conclusion. This is very well done, and highly recommended.
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