Tasya Vos (Andrea Riseborough) is an agent for a secretive organization that uses brain-implant technology to inhabit other people’s bodies, driving them to commit assassinations for the benefit of high-paying clients. But something goes wrong on a routine job, and she soon finds herself trapped in the mind of a man whose appetite for violence rivals her own.
Brandon Cronenberg’s Possessor is a movie that I had heard a lot about in my circle of film friends. Various people kept telling me how great the film truly is and said that it would be right up my alley. I don’t know why I put off watching the movie until now because now that I have seen it, I can confirm that this is very much up my alley. As a matter of fact, Possessor is one of the best films of the year so far and is an extremely impressive sci-fi horror, unlike anything we’ve seen before.
Right from the beginning, Cronenberg reels you in with the zaniness of the world that he created here. The first scene is filled to the brim with immense tension and makes you wonder what is going on and makes you want answers. Along the way, we definitely get some answers but we are also left with even more questions, but not in a bad way. Just when you think you may have figured something out, the film makes you think again and changes the way you saw the previous scenes. The script that Cronenberg wrote is marvelous and has plenty of twists and turns that will shock you.
But about that world that I mentioned earlier – it is grimy and extremely gross. One of the more intriguing aspects of Possessor is that there are essentially no characters that we are supposed to be rooting for. They are all bad people living in a money-hungry world run by crime and hopelessness. Seeing this world come to life was tragic and oftentimes gut-wrenchingly brutal.
Not only is the world that these characters inhabit brutal, but so is the movie as a whole. Possessor is a massively violent film with tons of blood to satisfy lots of horror fans, but it is thankfully never done in a distasteful way, nor is it the only thing the film has to offer. We get little bits and pieces of violence sprinkled throughout and instead of being impressed by the blood, I winced every time somebody got hurt on screen. It looked visceral and disgusting in all the best ways.
Aside from all of the stellar aspects to the film’s world and its handling of violence, it’s also just an incredible display of the actors’ talents. Andrea Riseborough is terrific in the scenes that she is physically seen in since she is the main character that possesses other’s bodies. But even better than Riseborough is Christopher Abbott. Every single second he is on screen was remarkably terrifying and thrilling. Here, Abbott delivers an extremely nuanced performance; one that is filled with a sense of raw intensity and quite simply one of the best performances of the year.
As great as the movie is though, there are some moments where the story becomes a bit too confusing and I often found myself wondering what was going on during certain scenes, particularly in the third act. Gratefully though, the film isn’t too confusing or messy for the long run and is ultimately one of the most intense horror thrillers I’ve seen in a long time. Here’s hoping that Cronenberg makes a new film in the new future because if it’s anything like this, it’s sure to be yet another gem.
Possessor is an incredibly visceral and chilling horror-thriller with an eerie sense of dread looming throughout, further boosted by the excellent performances and haunting atmosphere.
Overall Grade: A
MPAA Rating: R
Directed by: Brandon Cronenberg
Distributed by: Elevation Pictures, Neon
Release Date: January 25, 2020
Running Time: 104 minutes