The possession, directed by Ole Bornedal and starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan is based around the true story of the dybbuk box. The real documentation of the box is even creepier.
Kevin Mannis, a writer and creative professional by trade, owned a small antiques and furniture business in Portland, Oregon. According to Mannis’ story, he had bought the box at an estate sale in 2001. It had belonged to a Holocaust survivor of Polish origin, named Havela. At the estate sale, the woman’s granddaughter, upon noticing that Mannis had picked up the Dybbuk box, explained how her grandmother insisted that the box never be opened. She stated it had been purposely sealed after performing a séance on a homemade oracle board.
Buying the box Mannis brought the cabinet back to his small furniture store, where he stowed it in the basement and left, leaving a young sales clerk in charge of the shop. About a half hour later, the saleswoman called absolutely hysterical and screaming that someone was in the workshop breaking glass and she couldn’t get out of the emergency exit or iron security gate. As Mannis tried to call the police his phone went dead. Rushing over to his workshop he found his employee on the floor in a corner of his office, sobbing hysterically. In the basement Mannis was hit by an overpowering unmistakable odor of cat urine although no animals had ever been kept or found in the shop. The lights didn’t work and each and every bulb was broken though no intruder was never found. His sales assistant never returned to work after having worked for Mannis for two years and refuses to discuss the incident to this day.
Upon opening the box, Mannis found that it contained two 1920s pennies, a lock of blonde hair bound with cord, a lock of dark hair bound with cord, a small statue engraved with the Hebrew word “Shalom”. One dried rose bud, a single candle holder with four octopus-shaped legs, and a small, golden wine goblet.
Not thinking too much about the box, Mannis gave it to his mother for her birthday. While she examined it at his shop, Mannis went to make a phone call and hadn’t been out of sight for more than five minutes when one of his employees came running into his office saying that something was wrong with his mom. Upon seeing what was going on, he found his mom sitting in a chair beside the cabinet. Her face had no expression, but tears were streaming down her cheeks. No matter how much Mannis tried to get her to respond, she couldn’t. It turns out that the mother had suffered a stroke.
After unsuccessfully trying to give it away only to get it back, reluctantly, he took the box home and began having a recurring nightmare involving “the most gruesome, demonic-looking hag that I have ever seen.” Following a number of disturbing events Mannis listed the box on eBay, where it was purchased by bidder “agetron”, who then sold it again.
The box shifted ownership through a number of other transactions before it eventually ended in the arms of Jason Haxton. Jason was the director of the Museum of Osteopathic Medicine in Kirksville, Missouri and had been following blogs regarding the box and bought it for $280. Haxton wrote The Dibbuk Box, and claimed that he subsequently developed strange health problems, including hives, coughing up blood and head-to-toe welts. His wife also experienced bloody, weeping blisters. After Haxton’s office experienced the bursting of light bulbs, he locked the box in the back of his truck, parking it at his home in the evening. Haxton then began experiencing nightmares of hag-like women, not unlike Mannis’ claims. The final straw, Haxton claims, happened while he and his son were watching television and his son noticed a black flame-like mass in the room with them.
Haxton consulted with a Rabbi to try to figure out a way to seal the dybbuk in the box again. This was apparently successful and Haxton took the freshly resealed box and hid it at a secret location, which he will not reveal. Stating that when he dies he “would like the dybbuk box to be buried with me and for it to be finally gone from this world.”