Possessor

Possessor ★★★

The flesh is squeamishly jacked up here folks. You can expect nothing less than an NC-17 rating, and deservedly so. Brandon Cronenberg gets so drunk on his father’s sick, body-hacking potential that he almost forgets to step out of the bloody Matrix and save the picture itself. POSSESSOR combines cyberpunk with body horror, mental warfare with melting flesh. It sublimates the same fleshy tones and cerebral questions into something that, while resembling early 80s DC, moves sadistically far beyond it, bringing seriously fucked up levels of gore and violence to the screen that David never even came close to imagining. 

The story is ambitious as hell. An Orwellian liquid dream that blurs the boundary between the organic and the inorganic, where contracted-assassins use brain implant technology to penetrate the bodies of the corporate corrupt then butcher them in the most gruesome, jaw-dropping ways.

There are deaths so horrific and ultra-gory that it practically borders into the kind of smut-peddling insanity that only exists in the worst kinds of exploitation films. Before we went into the theater volunteers were carding everyone: “Please have your ID ready. You will not be let in if you’re under 18, even if you have a ticket.” In my 19 years of attending Sundance, this has never happend before, but it made sense in retrospect.

Like his father, BC is interested in the porous, fractured nature of identity, the way we trade identity, clothe identity, lose identity, and the horny puppeteering we do while occupying the minds and bodies of others. The film is branded with a particular confusion-logic that leaves exposition at the door to quickly establish the mind-melting horror at play, and while it works really well to compliment its themes and obsessions, the point of view is a little too abstract to fully land. The practical effects though are monstrously 80s and prosthetically insane, and keep the film centered on a mood that really gets under your skin. 

It’s heady, hideous and homicidally hackey, and though far from perfect it really seems to be setting BC up to walk in DC’s footsteps, which really excites me. Horror and transhumanism have long been fascinations of mine, so merging them together really is a killer combination here. 

One question you have to ask yourself while watching: Does BC find the memeification of Sean Bean funny, and if so, is this a flex with a promise? A guarantee that no earthly script will ever outdo what he does to the guy here? 🤔

Watched at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival

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