We are now officially three days into December and while I generally like to fill this month with more holiday horror films than any of Santa’s helpers could ever truly handle, I couldn’t help but start off with one not-so-Christmas one. The film I will be discussing today is Brandon Cronenberg’s Possessor.
Tasya Vos is a hired gun who uses brain-implant technology to assassinate high-profile targets. As the repetitive and violent nature of the job continues to take a toll on her, Vos is now thrust into an assignment where she may very well lose control completely.
Every once in a while, the online horror community finds a film that creates an enormous amount of buzz. It seems the latest to do that is this film here. Now that I’ve seen it for myself, I can fully understand why.
Possessor is not like anything I can recall ever watching quite frankly. Created in the mind of and delivered to us by Brandon Cronenberg, this 2020 sci-fi horror flick is both beautiful and shocking in equal measure.
While Possessor is only his second full-length film, Cronenberg is talented enough to know what he wants and exactly how to make it happen. Thanks to his imagination and the very clearly talented people he surrounded himself with on set, each scene is executed flawlessly with nothing in frame that doesn’t need to be, no odd angle shot by accident. Everything on display has its purpose, whether I, the viewer in this particular instance, was smart enough to realize it or not.
Possessor tells the tale of a company who has the ability, through technological means, to implant the consciousness of an individual into the body of another. Here, we are following Tasya Vos, played brilliantly by Andrea Riseborough (Mandy), as she takes yet another job to murder an assigned target. It is made clear very early in the film that Vos has been doing this job for quite a long time and it is obviously taking a toll on her, both physically and mentally. She is losing grip on reality and isn’t as well equipped to handle the duties of her job as she once was.
Still, Vos sucks it up and dives deeper into her responsibility as her company’s “star player.” The only problem with that is that her next victim happens to have a stronger will than Vos can handle.
Colin, played equally as brilliantly by Christopher Abbott (It Comes at Night), is so strong in fact that after he, or his body, has committed these heinous murders, he is able to ‘come to’ and realize something or someone is causing him to make these decisions.
The most impressive aspect of the performances of both Abbott and Riseborough is the fact that each one is playing dual characters. Abbott is tasked with portraying a Colin that is being possessed, as it were, by Vos. Similarly, Riseborough is playing Vos who no longer has control over her actions, taking on characteristics of Colin, as well as other former targets.
I have never acted in anything other than my elementary school plays, but I can imagine this being an extremely difficult task; Playing a character who is simultaneously another character. Incredible.
While all of this is taking place and the plot is unfolding, we are treated to the beautiful setting that I alluded to earlier. Cronenberg and his team have created a world that takes place in not-quite the future and most certainly not a present that we are familiar with. Equal parts vintage and futuristic, the world of Possessor is unique all its own, an alternate present day if you will.
In addition to the technology introduced throughout the film — full wall-sized television screens, headset goggles — the colors splashing across the screen are equally as entrancing. Scenes where the consciousness of Vos and Colin are battling are drenched in reds and yellows, hallucinatory imagery that is paired with, of course, some fantastic body horror a la daddy Cronenberg.
Possessor is not like most other science fiction and horror hybrid films. There is virtually no CG or digital effects to be seen, all manner of colors, machinery, and most importantly to horror fans, killing are all executed with practical means.
This film does not contain a very high body count, but with each subsequent death, the scene is much more grisly than the last. Gore fiends rejoice as you will get to see some pretty brutal stuff here; Dozens of stab wounds, beatings, broken teeth, plucked out eyeballs, etc. are all on display throughout the film’s 104 minutes.
Possessor at Home
This much talked about horror film is available to own now on Digital and will make its debut on 4K Ultra and Blu-ray combo pack and standalone Blu-ray on Tuesday, December 8 from Well Go USA Entertainment.
Possessor is presented uncut in a 16:9 widescreen format. The film features an English language DTS-HD audio track and optional English SDH subtitles.
Accompanying the film itself are deleted scenes, behind the scenes featurettes with interviews from cast and crew, and trailers/previews for other Well Go titles.
A lot of times films that receive this much unanimous praise from the horror crowd don’t generally end up on my re-watch list. Possessor, however, is the exception because this is every bit as good as it has been made out to be. In fact, I am sure I will pick up more and more detail with each future viewing.
If you are at all interested in the work of Brandon Cronenberg and/or this film in particular, stop procrastinating and make it a point to watch Possessor today.
Let me know your thoughts on this one, as I give it a final rating of 4 plucked out eyeballs out of 5.