Updated: Oct 7, 2021
I first caught Possessor last year & while I liked a lot of it I was left slightly underwhelmed. My initial opinion was that, while admirably bleak & interesting, it didn’t really bring anything new to the table, especially since Brandon Cronenberg’s father pretty much wrote the mind / body horror rulebook.
So since Possessor just popped up on Shudder, I thought I’d take another trip to the bleak side with Cronenberg Jr. First the good: from the opening assassination to the final bloody battle for control of the possessed body of Colin, the film is brutal in its unflinching approach to violence & its effect on the human body. Cronenberg isn’t aiming to give gorehounds their fix (though they still will) he wants us to feel the pain as bodies are stabbed, shot & hacked into bloody viscera. In a world full of real life horror, the director doesn’t sugar coat or make any of the atrocities fun & I respect that as a viewer.
There’s an incredibly dark & blackly comic scene where Vos is seen making dispassionate love to her husband. Then her mind flashes to her last hit with a closeup on her blade penetrating her targets neck, allowing her to find arousal. It’s a sick & twisted implication & is the first sign of life we see from our vacant lead.
The battle between Vos (the Possessor) & Colin (the possessed) is fascinating to watch, particularly when Colin starts to wrest control back & seeks revenge, leading to the aforementioned dark as fuck ending.
But despite this, I feel even more detached from the characters than I did on first watch. Vos is an utterly unsympathetic character & as someone who is paid to kill people, is a hard figure to follow. Colin is the same, we barely get to meet him before Vos takes over. Therefore the violent tragedies that befall them only resonates on a visceral level and not on an emotional one - even when members of Vos’ family are murdered.
So I’m pretty much at a similar place with film, both appreciating it more & still at arms length from it, leaving it as a cold bloody affair with some good ideas but populated with unlikeable automatons doing horrible things to each other.
3.5 neck stabs out of 5