Directed by Brandon Cronenberg
Starring Andrea Riseborough, Christopher Abbott, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Sean Bean
Taking over someone’s identity can be a hell of an experience. That’s what Possessor shows, in an alarmingly logical and semi-realistic manner, where technological progress enables utterly cynical and amoral corporations to use this for nefarious gains. Possessor is certainly a bit of an alarm bell for this worrying rise of technology, but it’s also the most fun, and likely the goriest, horror film of the year.
A shady corporation takes offers from high-paying clients to carry out assassinations, which can be done through the guise of putting the contract killer into the mind of someone else (though the only way to escape their mind is to die). Although the main character is Tasya (Andrea Riseborough), once she gets into the mind of Colin (Christopher Abbott), it is he that becomes the more prominent character (despite not exactly being himself of course). His identity is taken over so Tasya can carry out a hit on his family member, though the identity confusion for this character (as well as their apparent increase in bloodlust) complicates this mission.
Possessor takes a delicate and somewhat distanced look at the desensitisation of violence. The only repercussions for this contract killer are psychological. This could maybe be construed as a cheeky metaphor for gore-loving horror fans as well, but this theme is sufficient enough to garner conversation, though still held back enough to allow viewers to come to their own conclusion.
There don’t seem to be too many external obstacles in this mission, with it seeming straight-forward. But it’s the internal issues that cause an issue of identity, with Tasya and Colin lapping over each other in their mind, not to mention Tasya’s apparent bloodlust. She keeps fantasising over gory close-ups of her previous victim, who she dealt with in a more painful and gorier manner than she was told to.
Being the son of one of the greatest directors of the body horror genre, Brandon Cronenberg is sure to be hit with comparisons, yet there’s really more contrasts than similarities. Possessor feels a little more forward-thinking with how the technology enhances and distorts the identity and bodily terror.