Time: 104 Minutes
Age Rating: Graphic violence, explicit sex scenes & content thay may disturb
Andrea Riseborough as Tasya Vos
Christopher Abbott as Colin Tate
Rossif Sutherland as Michael Vos
Tuppence Middleton as Ava Parse
Sean Bean as John Parse
Jennifer Jason Leigh as Girder
Director: Brandon Cronenberg
Tasya Vos (Andrea Riseborough), an elite, corporate assassin, takes control of other people’s bodies using brain-implant technology to execute high-profile targets.
All I knew about Possessor (also known as Possessor: Uncut) going in was that it was a horror movie directed by David Cronenberg’s son Brandon, and that it was meant to be quite good. It was quite an experience, and I was not prepared for what I was about to watch to say the least. At this point I’d say that it is one of my favourite movies of the year thus far.
Possessor is a pretty creative movie, packed with so many ideas. What makes it particularly unsettling is that everything from the setting to the characters and the premise with corporations hiring people to possess people to assassinate targets felt dystopian. The futuristic setting is so bleak, especially when it comes to surveillance, the information age and psychic warfare, with the use of advanced technology. So that adds another level of being disturbing, and this is even before considering the brutality and shocking images you see in the movie. It really does make sense that Cronenberg’s son directed it given the body horror and sci-fi with big ideas. Cronenberg doesn’t hold your hand throughout the movie, you have to put the pieces together yourself of what’s happening. It is an hour and 40 minutes long and generally I was intrigued with what was happening. For example, even though Andrea Riseborough’s task is to kill someone essentially, she has to learn how to mimic the person she’s possessing and try to set things up in a particular way. It also shows the mental strain and effect it has on her from doing all these jobs. It is worth going into the movie not knowing too much. Possessor is very unapologetic and ambitious, and with that comes risks and sometimes some parts don’t always work out. The movie is very deliberately paced, which is good and definitely better than feeling too rushed. However, a couple scenes are a bit too slow and drawn out.
The cast were all great in their parts. Andrea Riseborough plays the assassin who overtakes bodies to kill targets, while I haven’t seen most of her work, this has to be the best performance I’ve seen from her yet. Christopher Abbott plays the person who is taken over by Riseborough to perform her job, and he was equally great. The supporting cast with the likes of Rossif Sutherland, Tuppence Middleton, Sean Bean and Jennifer Jason Leigh all play their parts very well too.
Brandon Cronenberg directs Possessor, and his work here is outstanding. This is his second film, and his first is Antiviral which came 8 years ago, and I really want to check that movie if Possessor is anything to go by. It is a visually and aesthetically stunning movie, with a great colour pallet. The strangely hypnotic, surreal and nightmarish transition sequences are outstanding too. The violence is unbelievably brutal, even to the point where I got squeamish at times. I watched the Uncut version of the movie, and it was absolutely brutal NC-17 level stuff. It’s an assault on the senses from the very first scene onwards and gives you a hint for the type of movie that you’re in for. There is one scene in particular which stands out as being really gruesome. The practical gore effects are outstanding. The synth score from Jim Williams is filled with dread and fits the rest of the film perfectly.
Possessor is a thematic, disturbing and gory body horror movie that has a lot going on with it. The cast are great, it’s very intriguing, and Brandon Cronenberg’s direction is fantastic. It’s definitely not for everyone, the gore at the very least will turn some people off. Otherwise if you think you can handle it and are interested by it, I highly recommend checking it out. I’m interested in seeing what Cronenberg makes next, hopefully we won’t have to wait another 8 years to see it.