Film Review: Possessor Uncut

STUDIO: NEON | DIRECTOR: Brandon Cronenberg | CAST: Andrea Riseborough, Christopher Abbott, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tuppence Middleton, Sean Bean
RELEASE DATE: Oct. 2, 2020
SPECS: NR | 103 min. | Science fiction horror thriller

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie 3Dishes.jpg (40×13) 1/2

An eerie dystopian-like world. Check!
Disturbing body horror. Check!
Suspicious corporations. Check!
Toronto as a setting. Check!
Gore galore. Check!
Jennifer Jason Leigh. Check!

You are now entering the cinematic world of Cronenberg—Brandon Cronenberg that is. He’s the 40-year-old son of David Cronenberg, the revered Canadian filmmaker behind The Fly, Dead Ringers and Scanners. To invoke the old saying “like father, like son” here would simply be an understatement.

Possessor, Brandon’s sophomore effort following the 2012’s similarly disconcerting Antiviral, stars Andrea Riseborough (Nocturnal Animals)as Tasya Vos, a New Age assassin who accomplishes her daring assignments by entering people’s bodies through an imposing, new-fangled yet primitive brain-implant technique.  Giving Vos her orders is Girder (Jennifer Jason Leigh, Annihilation), a no-nonsense manager at the mysterious murder-for-hire company.

Tasya, who wants to get out of the emotionally and physically occupation, is given a new assignment: Enter the body of Colin (Christopher Abbott, TV’s Girls) and have him take out his future father-in-law (Sean Bean, The Martian), the powerful CEO of a data-mining company, so Tasya’s client can gain control of the business.

Possessor features some strikingly repulsive images that may force viewers to turn away. At the same time, however, it’s sharp and intelligent, and doesn’t shy away from examining a futuristic “Big Brother”-like society (although the film is actually set in an alternate version of 2008!), identity issues and corporate treachery. But like 1999’s Existenz, his father’s film (that featured Leigh as a virtual reality game designer and real-life “pod” person( and 1983’s Videodrome , another of Daddy’s twisted techno/skin enterprises, Possessor becomes a bit muddled at times as it tries to take on some seriously heady issues while satisfying the extreme horror crowd.

The film received a strong response at Sundance and Toronto Film Festivals, and Cronenberg family followers have been anxiously awaiting its release, a homecoming of sorts for those unafraid to attend.

About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.