Title – Possessor (2020)
Director – Brandon Cronenberg (Antiviral)
Cast – Andrea Riseborough, Christopher Abbott, Tuppence Middleton, Jennifer Jason Leigh
Plot – Tasya Vos (Riseborough) works for a secretive undercover organization that inhabits humans through use of a scientific device that allows the user to possess their desired host. Using this technology too carry out assassinations, Tasya finds trouble in her latest job that see’s her possess Colin Tate (Abbott).
“Just make sure you pull the trigger on the way out”
Review by Eddie on 07/12/2020
There’s no doubt that daddy would be proud.
Seven years on from his impressive debut with cult horror Antiviral, son of David, Brandon Cronenberg returns with another horror filled sci-fi Possessor, a grisly, bloody and original offering that feels as though its been born straight out of the 80’s genre cannon too hit us hard with its unflinching violence and examination of a tech-filled world gone bad.
With its bleak aesthetic and even bleaker narrative that focuses on Andrea Riseborough’s mentally withering Tasya, whose job is working for a shady organization using advanced technology to “possess” human hosts and carry out assassinations for high paying clients, Possessor is a typically Cronenberg experience that isn’t one you’d call enjoyable in the essence of the saying but its a constantly engaging one that pulls no punches as we go down a dangerous rabbit hole with Tasya.
Promoted heavily as Possessor Uncut in many markets, there’s a reason the marketing behind Cronenberg’s film has honed in on this aspect of the film as much like his father before him Brandon is able to shock and surprise viewers with Possessor’s often unexpected bursts of wince-inducing violence and terror, that while not frequent in the film, make themselves well and truly known when they arrive.
The films more notable arrivals that include these blood splattered moments and some fairly confronting examples of on screen nudity go a large way to enlivening an otherwise fairly subdued and somber offering with Possessor in no real rush or worry when it comes to getting things done fast or developing characters further than a surface level but thanks to the work of the always good Riseborough and another solid turn from rising star Christopher Abbott, Possessor feels a cut above similar low-budget affairs that don’t often feel as polished or refined as this.
There’s not many elements of Cronenberg’s film that haven’t been explored in some way, shape or form in other films and more likable characters wouldn’t of hurt the films chances of being slightly more memorable but there’s enough here to once more suggest that the youngest Cronenberg can live up to his father’s significant reputation as a boundary pushing director.
Final Say –
A grim and brutal affair that is the very definition of sci-fi/horror, Possessor is a another solid piece of work from Brandon Cronenberg that hints at the possible greatness that is to come from the up and coming director.
3 1/2 cocktail parties out of 5
Great review Eddie. Super excited to check this out once my 4k finally comes in. Glad to read that you enjoyed it. I’ve heard the score is original, entertaining, and fits the mood of the movie to a T. What are your thoughts on it?
Cheers mate, this will look insane on 4K, it has some very neat practical effects! The score was very cool actually, the film had a very unnerving tone throughout and the score was a big part of that.
My only complaint is I wish we learned more about her character. Was her apparently increasingly violent nature really just her attempting to stay in character or was she becoming desensitized and deranged from the process? And there are some pretty dark implications about her with that last twist in the end. I guess that’s the mark of a quality film though, leaves you wanting more and keeps you thinking about it for a while.
It certainly had a lot going on in that respect mate, the characters were never really explored overly deeply but you got a sense of what was going on and the potential motivators etc. A very neat little sci-fi/horror this one.
Good review. I’ve actually been watching some of Cronenberg the Elder’s work the past month or so, and this definitely feels like a movie that he would have made back in the mid 80s, likely around the time of Scanners or Videodrome.
I really loved the atmosphere of the movie, as well as Abbott and Risenborough’s performances (the latter is quickly becoming one of my favorite actresses).
It might take me awhile until I rewatch it, mainly because of how unflinchingly bleak and brutal the movie is.
BTW, have my own review up on my blog. Would be cool if you would give it a look.
Oh man this movie is as bleak as the come ha, really keen to see where younger Cronenberg goes in the future.
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