A kaleidoscope of dysphoria, Brandon Cronenberg’s follow-up to Antiviral proves to be just as grotesquely fascinating and viscerally striking as his 2012 debut. Cronenberg’s second feature stays within the realms of dystopian science fiction, revolving around killer-for-hire Tasya (Andrea Riseborough), who works for a secretive organisation who kill their targets through hijacking the minds of others and using them to commit murder-suicides. However, when Tasya is tasked with eliminating a powerful businessman (Sean Bean) posing as his son-in-law (Christopher Abott), she finds herself losing control of his body as the situation spins out of control.
Despite the bold reds and blues that paint this near-futuristic city with a dazzling vibrancy, Possessor is incredibly bleak. It retraces some of the common tropes we’ve seen before such as corporations spying on us for their own gain and the dangers of technology (Upgrade also posed similar questions) – but never have these themes been handled in quite the same cold, blood-spattered way in which Cronenberg explores them here. The jaw-dropping cinematography of Karim Hussain (who also collaborated with the filmmaker for Antiviral) will pull viewers into this highly stylised world. But Cronenburg’s writing and direction will wrap itself around you, suffocating and disorientating in the process.
And then there’s the brutality. Although it doesn’t feature that often, when violence does rear its head it’s ruthless in its extremity. Watching someone have their jaw ripped apart with a fire poker (in extreme close-up, no less) is as distressing as it sounds and will likely cause many to audibly wince.
As Tasya’s assignment begins to go off the rails, so too does the script. Twist after twist is piled into the final act to purposefully confuse viewers. And by the time the credits role, the narrative has become so convoluted that it’s impossible to follow or make sense of anything – if we’re even supposed to make sense of it at all.
Once again proving himself to be as provocative and imaginatively horrific as his father, Cronenberg equally disturbs and delights viewers with Possessor, the weirdest and most unique horror film in recent memory.
Possessor is released in select cinemas on 27th November 2020.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2020 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch the trailer for Possessor here: