Like dad David Cronenberg, Brandon Cronenberg has a singular means of testing the boundaries of consolation and exploring the human thoughts and physique in squeamish trend. In his characteristic debut, Antiviral, Brandon Cronenberg declared himself a visionary director, one forging new floor within the style area his father way back deserted. Whereas his newest, Possessor, may belong in the identical dialog as eXistenZ, Cronenberg as soon as once more proves himself as one to observe with a heady sci-fi movie that brings severe ranges of violence and gore.
Tasya Vos (Andrea Riseborough) is an agent working for a secretive company that makes use of mind implant expertise to inhabit different folks’s our bodies and puppeteer them to commit assassinations on the firm’s path. When the deed is completed, the agent alerts the company to take away her consciousness from her host physique simply earlier than she forces her host to self-terminate. Tasya is so efficient at her job that she’s the company’s finest agent, and a favourite of her boss, Girder (Jennifer Jason Leigh). The extra time she spends in different our bodies, although, the extra she appears to lose management over her thoughts. Repressed recollections bubble to the floor, others appear to fade solely, and identification turns into trickier to keep up. When she inhabits the physique of her newest host, Colin (Christopher Abbot), his soul isn’t fairly as keen to let her take over due to her weakened psychological state, and the struggle over management threatens to obliterate them each.
From the opening scene that demonstrates the body-hopping assassination course of, Cronenberg declares that he’s not messing round. A lady (Gabrielle Graham) sticks a steel rod electrode into her scalp, in graphic trend. The wound squishes, and blood gushes forth. After a beat, she proceeds about her typical workday till she finds her goal, after which slaughters him in a sadistically violent means. No deaths on this film henceforth might be light; visceral horror is the model of this complicated and heady sci-fi thriller.
Riseborough has the unenviable activity of tackling a personality who, after we meet her, exists in a state of confusion. Tasya’s battle for her identification, and holding tight to it because it’s slipping away, is the foundation of her journey. On the one hand, that makes her inaccessible to get to know who she is, however on the opposite, that’s your complete intriguing level. Abbott has essentially the most thrilling function to play as a person inhabited by two very totally different minds in Inception-level consciousness. As soon as Tasya enters Colin’s thoughts, Abbott primarily performs each characters. At first, it’s as if Colin is grappling with a brand new illness or the dawning realization that one thing is severely amiss along with his physique. Because it progresses, he’s enjoying a way more in management Tasya, and it’s mind-bending.
Matching the fantastic gore and insanely intricate character/actor work is the slick manufacturing. Chilly, slick sci-fi meets a Grand Guignol aesthetic, and it’s gorgeous. Attractive cinematography by Karim Hussain (Antiviral, We Are Nonetheless Right here), incredible sensible results by particular results designer Dan Martin (Coloration Out of Area), and Rupert Lazarus’s (eXistenZ) manufacturing design all contribute to an unsettling spectacle the place heat flesh actually melts and sterile expertise reigns supreme.
One of many hardest parts to tug off in a style movie is the grand finale, and Possessor greater than delivers. Even when the interior battle for physique supremacy and all of the cerebral questions it raises will get complicated, all of it culminates in a single jaw-dropping conclusion that ensures the movie will get below your pores and skin.
Cronenberg’s sophomore effort is bold as hell, and it might not go fairly as deep because the premise suggests. That the 2 leads are folks we by no means get to know earlier than we’re thrust into their struggles with self-identity, or that they’re not precisely nice folks to start with, signifies that it is perhaps powerful for some to discover a rooting curiosity. However for those who love cerebral thrillers with sensible gore, wrapped up in a stimulating sci-fi bundle, it is a should. Possessor will depart you stoked for Cronenberg’s subsequent effort.
Editor’s Notice: This Sundance evaluate was initially printed on January 27, 2020.
Possessor opened in theaters and drive-ins on October 2.
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