andrew vessel’s review published on Letterboxd:
Possessor is an interesting movie to talk about, both in the complexity of its narrative and the satisfyingly pulpy uber gore that Brandon Cronenberg proudly showcases here. I had been looking forward to this one for quite a while, and I found it to be a bloody good time. Right off the bat, I appreciated its originality. The whole movie really felt like nothing I had seen in recent memory and I cherished its ability to throw me into a completely new and invigorating experience. While a lot of it is pretty gnarly stuff, it does sometimes feel stretched out, resulting in your brain ultimately working faster at putting together the pieces than the narrative can at unfolding the story. I didn’t really have a problem with how much of a slow burn this was, but I can see others possibly becoming off-put by its pace given the expectations set by the trailer and the director at the helm. The FX work is pretty outstanding thankfully. When the last name Cronenberg comes up, the first thing that comes to my mind is body horror. This surely is no exception, as there are quite a few visually impressive sequences that bolster its often surrealistic undertones. Abbott and Riseborough are both pretty good, especially the latter. Throughout the film, we’re watching her character become more and more detached from herself as she submerges herself into identities separate from her own. The job she supposedly has such a gift for is undoubtedly tearing her apart, both mentally and physically. What’s great is that Andrea Riseborough’s performance is just tormented enough that I never lost sight of her inner turmoil even in the face of grisly danger. While the cinematography and score are also worthy of praise on their own, I want to put emphasis on its graphic nature. Before going into it, I had read around and saw claims that it was violent enough to warrant an NC-17 rating. That honestly had only boosted my anticipation more, and coming out of it, it quite honestly delivers on that front. I mean, it isn’t as often as you may think, but when it gets down to it, it actually does tend to be just downright brutal. And you know what? All of it is brilliance. In the end, I was excited to see this for a while and it ultimately did not disappoint. It fires on many of its cylinders, even though it does at times feel like it slightly casts character depth to the side in favor of gory shocks. Yet, its excellently visceral quality of said shocks are where it finds much of its strength, besides some gloriously grotesque body horror, alluring cinematography and impressive dual performances from Andrea Riseborough and Christopher Abbott. New meaning has been given to the danger of fire pokers.