Possessor: A New Cronenberg Takes The Helm – YouTube Rental Review

Brandon Cronenberg shows he can continue the family business.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

In an alternate world, Tanya Vos (Andrea Riseborough) is an assassin who operates by using a machine to take over the bodies of unsuspecting people in order to carry out killings. The hosts are given special implants without their knowledge and Vos commits suicide at the end of each hit in order to cover up the job and return to her body. The amount of time that Vos dedicates to impersonating others causes immense problems in her personal life, including issues with her husband, Michael (Rossif Sutherland) and her son, Ira (Gage Graham-Arbuthnot). Her handler, Girder (Jennifer Jason Leigh), constantly tries to convince Tanya to leave her family behind in order to be a better killer.

The machine is disturbing.

Tanya agrees to perform a hit on a CEO named John Parse (Sean Bean) and his daughter, Ava (Tuppence Middleton), by taking over Ava’s fiance, Colin (Christopher Abbott). However, after some of the plan goes awry, Colin’s personality starts to reassert itself and now Tanya and Colin are fighting for control over his body. 

END SUMMARY

Brandon Cronenberg, writer and director of this film, is the son of legendary director David Cronenberg, famed for his body horror and sci-fi movies. As expected, this movie contains a number of themes and elements similar to his father, but the film overall still has a distinct feel from the older Cronenberg’s work. If you liked Videodrome, though, you will probably enjoy this film. Also, there are two versions of this film, the Uncut version and the US release version. If you bought the Sundance copy, that’s the Uncut. It’s only a few minutes difference, but the Uncut version is definitely preferable. It has a bit more gore and more nudity and it definitely has a few scenes that hit harder than the other. However, no substantive plot elements or character moments are really changed, so if you only want the R-rated version, you still get the movie. Note: Amazon only has the R-rated one as of now, but YouTube has the Uncut. 

Definitely go uncut.

As to the movie itself, holy hell is this a great film. It starts off with an incredibly tough premise for many of the performers, which is that they have to act like they’re being possessed by a different person pretending to be them, but Christopher Abbott, who has to do most of it, does an amazing job. When we do see Riseborough both as Vos and as a version of the Possessed Colin throughout the film, her performance is similarly incredible. She acts like a person who is completely void inside trying to pretend to be a human being. You’d think that’d be hard to portray, but she nails it. All of the supporting roles were great.

Even the slow moments show off her range.

The dialogue in the film is solid, although many of the scenes are more about the visuals. I’m impressed with how much can be conveyed with relatively little actually being said despite the convoluted nature of the premise. It’s also impressive how well the script maintains the characters’ voices while they’re in other bodies at times. Just a sign of how much effort went into this and how much it was Cronenberg’s vision.

Visuals are amazing.

Then there’s the horror. The premise is horrifying enough, but when you start to see both Colin and Tanya fighting over the body, that’s when it starts to ramp up to eleven. I don’t want to spoil anything from the second half of the film, but it does a hell of a job exploring this premise to the fullest. And yes, the body horror is real.

It’s very real.

Overall, this is just a terrific film. Give it a try.

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If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.