It’s possible that The Possession is actually some kind of meta-commentary on the direly clich├ęd nature of most mainstream horror movies. Its dedicated adherence to all the most predictable and hackneyed tropes of both storytelling and construction might be a sneaky jab at their tired natures. Or maybe it’s just another horror movie. Either way, it’s not very good.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays Clyde Brenek, a divorced father of two girls trying to do right by them. At a yard sale, his younger daughter, Em (Natasha Calis) discovers a mysterious old box, one seemingly made not to be opened and covered in Hebrew writing. They buy it, and Em discovers a way to open the box, which releases an evil spirit trapped within. The spirit possesses her, although only Clyde realizes that there’s something wrong with her beyond the normal anxieties brought on my divorce. He begins racing against time to find a way to seal the spirit back in the box before it takes Em’s life to come into the world.

The only thing that separates this movie from any other exorcism story is its focus on a demon from Jewish folklore, rather than a Christian one. But functionally, that change makes no difference. It just means that the plot substitutes a rabbi for a priest in the exorcism scenes. It’s the same routine of chanting at the evil foe, only in Hebrew instead of Latin. Nothing the spirit, a dybbuk, does to Em feels particularly inspired, either. It makes a lot of moths fly around and sometimes tosses people about, but mainly its goal seems to be to make Clyde look like an abusive father, which is unintentionally funny.

In fact, family drama is featured just as if not more than supernatural tomfoolery here. Clyde’s struggle to free his daughter coincides with his slow working his way back into the lives of his ex-wife (Kyra Sedgwick) and daughters. If the nature of the dybbuk in any way, shape, or form could conceivably stand in for the familial situation, then this film would have a bit of thematic power in it. But it doesn’t. The possession being a vehicle for Clyde to get back in their graces, rather than relating in some way to their problems, is honestly really weird. After all, if they get back together this way, what’s to stop things from unraveling again due to the same issues that came up in the first place?

Good horror uses its monsters as symbolic of something real, something that we have honest reason to fear. Otherwise, there’s nothing really scary about them. The only stuff that could rattle anyone in this movie is a parade of threadbare techniques like jump scares, loud chords, and little girls looking creepy. And why do horror movies feel the need to be so loud? There are a few scenes here that could be honestly effective if they didn’t blare out the soundtrack every time it wanted to jolt the audience.

The Possession looks good, and has fairly nice performances (although Sedgwick’s role as a one-dimensional harridan, whose job it is to unfairly misunderstand what Clyde is doing, is pretty thankless). It’ll probably send more than a few people on their first dates into each other’s arms, but that’s about all it’s good for. Absolutely nothing makes it stand out from the field of horror movies, exorcism movies, or any movies.