The Reel Review
Tasya Vos (Andrea Riseborough) is a possessor, a futuristic spy whose essence can be implanted briefly inside the brains of others, enabling her to use their bodies to assassinate individuals for high paying clients. As the mental strain of her job intensifies, an assassination goes awry, and she finds herself trapped inside the mind of a man (Christopher Abbott) whose identity threatens to destroy her own, in this sci-fi/horror.
Brandon Cronenberg, son of renowned body horror director David Cronenberg (Dead Ringers, Scanners), dabbles with some intriguing body horror concepts of his own in Possessor – mind control by nefarious corporate overloads, the blurring of gender and identity within both possessors and those possessed, and its effects on the self identities of each. This is a film that had the potential to be truly trippy and mind-blowing in the most Matrix-y, Inception-esque sort of way.
But the Possessor we end up with merely flirts with, and never quite commits, to all of these potentially fascinating concepts. Instead we get a dimly lit, slow moving film featuring all the expected graphic gore alongside some truly shocking moments. Andrea Riseborough (Birdman, Oblivion), Jennifer Jason Leigh (Annihilation) and Christopher Abbott (It Comes at Night, Martha Marcy May Marlene) all do a fine job in a film that, while intriguing, had the potential to be something so much more compelling than what it is.
• Body horror is a subgenre of horror that intentionally showcases disturbing violations of the human body, through aberrant sex, mutations, mutilation, gratuitous violence, disease or unnatural movements. Frankenstein is an early example of body horror.
• Director Brandon Cronenberg says there are two versions of the script for Possessor, meaning he may make a second movie in the future including material that didn’t make it into this film.
• Possessor premiered in January 2020 at the Sundance Film Festival, but its general release was delayed until October 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.