Possessor ★★★★½

Brandon Cronenberg is, truly, one sick puppy. Ruthlessly amoral and restlessly cerebral, his stone-cold sophomore effort is part espionage thriller and part mind-melting body horror freak-out. I prefer it in the latter vein, selfishly, but then again eventually so does Cronenberg fils, stabs of sickly yellow and arterial red glowering until they escalate into the film’s primary battleground. 

This film is blessed with Andrea Riseborough, with eyes like black holes and an emaciated look one could accurately call “pre-cog,” but for me its heart belongs to Christopher Abbott, a man made a ghost in his own shell, waging a psychic war of attrition against impossibly invasive tech; their identities become blurred across the course of the film, and Cronenberg frames this as an opportunity for both characters to act with quiet, primal impunity, each letting their most depraved impulses out to play within an entire film about who can really be held accountable in a world where actions and desires are suddenly overridden or hijacked. 

Possessor feels as much an anxious document of its time as eXistenZ, staring bleakly at how controlled we are by our own advancements, how unable we are to turn them off, how they trap us in plasmic prisons where neither morality nor personal identity can follow. It’s quality stuff, and thrillingly original in its future-facing horror.

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