Possessor is a horror film that was written and directed by Brandon Cronenberg, son of famed horror director David Cronenberg. Andrea Riseborough is Vos, an assassin who takes control of others’ bodies to carry out her hits. She returns to her own body by forcing the host to commit suicide at the end of each job.
Through an implant installed in the unwitting host’s brain, Vos can use a special machine to insert her consciousness into their minds. Due to the amount of time she spends imitating other people, Vos struggles with increasing detachment from her own identity. She cannot fully separate her work from her interactions with her husband and son. Even going as far as having to “practice” her persona the way she does for hosts.
Despite her fragile mental state and fatigue with her work, Vos agrees to perform a major hit on wealthy CEO John Parse (Sean Bean). She possesses Colin Tate, fiancé of Ava Parse who’s the daughter of John Parse. Vos spends a few days as Colin and begins to feel an increasing inner struggle as well as witnessing strange visual glitches. Eventually, she attempts the hit on John but fails, only badly wounding him and killing Ava. Afterwards, Vos attempts to flee the scene by forcing Tate to shoot himself but discovers she cannot make him pull the trigger.
Tate instead stabs himself in the skull in an act of rebellion. This damages the implant. Vos discovers she cannot leave Tate’s body or overpower his will.
Check out Possessor to find out what happens next.
Firstly, as soon as I found out that this film was created by the son of David Cronenberg it all made so much sense. Let me just put it this way, Daddy must be proud. Possessor has the look and feel of something torn right out of the 80s. However, it’s presented in a modern way. The idea of someone being body snatched or Possessed is hardly original. Still, this film does something with that concept that I’m not sure I’ve ever seen before. That alone is very impressive. I really enjoyed the ways in which it showed the inner struggle between Vos & Colin. There’s a lot going on that requires the viewers own interpretation but it’s not overly complicated. There’s plenty to dissect though which makes this the type of film that would be perfect for repeat viewings.
Secondly, let’s talk about the gore. There’s some awesome looking body horror that Cronenberg would proud of. Also, I feel it’s fair to label this film as ultra-violent. The blood and gore felt really realistic to me, it can be brutal.
I have a couple of issues with Possessor that stop it from being flawless. Vos as a character isn’t developed that well. You learn little about her and why she even does what she does. Calling her a blank slate feels apt to me. Also, why does the organization want to kill Sean Bean’s John Parse? We see that he operates an invasive surveillance company but it’s never specifically stated unless I missed it. What exactly does his death achieve? The performances are strong throughout Possessor but it’s hard to truly invest in characters when you know little to nothing about them.
Overall, Possessor is a very solid film. Seeing the son of David Cronenberg manage to capture the essence of what made David Cronenberg’s films so memorable is exciting for the future of horror. I genuinely look forward to what Brandon does next. Until then, I’d advise you check out Possessor as its most certainly worth a watch.
The Final Score - 7.5/10