CERT: 18 | RELEASE DATE: NOVEMBER 27TH
Brandon Cronenberg’s sophomore feature Possessor asserts him both as a distinct creative voice and as a part of the great horror tradition laid out by his father, David Cronenberg. This ambitious arthouse horror is an ultra-stylish, ultra-violent exploration of selfhood and identity guaranteed to crawl under your skin… and perhaps nest there.
In an alternative 2008, a woman named Tasya Vos (Andrea Riseborough) works as a contract killer, inserting herself into the minds of ‘hosts’ and using their bodies to carry out executions. Once the job is done, the host kills themselves while her consciousness slips back into her body, tucked away in a secret facility. Though it’s clear the work is taking its toll on Vos, she is nonetheless quickly pushed into another assignment – one which will devolve into a brutal fight for control, with the body of Colin Tate (Christopher Abbott) serving as battleground.
What ensues is a visually glorious struggle with, and for, one’s selfhood. Where Possessor’s strength lies in its spectacle and lofty ambitions, those same virtues also make it relatively low stakes. The protagonists are so thinly sketched that the battle between identities feels inconsequential. However, this also allows Cronenberg to pose questions about the meaning of identity and its mutability without having to provide answers or resolution. It can be frustrating, but it pushes the audience to come to their own conclusions.
In any case, Possessor’s visceral violence and vibrant body horror create so great and unsettling a visual impact that its echoes will continue long after the screen goes dark. Possessor forces its audience to ponder the meaning of the self, and perhaps re-evaluate its very existence.