- Emma Simmonds
- 23 November 2020
A superb cast flesh out this striking and disturbing sci-fi horror from Brandon Cronenberg, son of David
Like a howl of despair for humanity, Brandon Cronenberg's twisted Possessor arrives to thoroughly mess with our heads. The writer-director son of genre legend David follows his 2012 feature debut Antiviral with another slice of sci-fi that takes things up several notches, both in terms of the skill of its realisation and the nightmarishness of its content.
It features Andrea Riseborough as Tasya Vos, an agent for a shadowy organisation – run by Jennifer Jason Leigh's Girder – which carries out contract killings by getting its employees to enter the bodies of those with access to their targets. Overriding the host's psyche is a delicate, difficult process and inhabiting the minds of others has left Vos confused, detached and unable to communicate naturally, while she's haunted by crimes which have become very gruesome in their nature.
Vos is estranged from her husband and son (Rossif Sutherland and Gage Graham-Arbuthnot), who she lies to about her job, but when it seems there is hope for a reunion she can't quite bring herself to return to a normal life. Instead, a big contract provides her with a distraction, she's to take over Colin Tate (Christopher Abbott) in order to assassinate his girlfriend Ava Parse (Tuppence Middleton) and her father John (Sean Bean), handing control of John's uber-successful tech company to his stepson and giving Girder and co the opportunity to seize it themselves through blackmail.
As he explores escapism and invasion in visceral style, Cronenberg shows a similar love for body horror as his father. Possessor fruitfully sets this extreme form of intrusion against a backdrop of more recognisable tech company spying, with the film digging into routine breaches of privacy and institutional betrayals. Riseborough and Abbott are superb as frazzled, fractured and disorientated individuals who are very much not themselves. Best of all, Cronenberg, cinematographer Karim Hussain and the film's ingenious effects team craft some unforgettable imagery that takes us deep into tortured psyches and stunningly depicts the battle for control of a mind.
Available to watch on demand from Fri 27 Nov.