Savage ☽◯☾’s review published on Letterboxd:
This is the kind of film that gives me a hangover after watching it, not because it was bad in any way, but because it was so much of an experience. While some things are overt, there's also a lot of subtlety and intricacy in the storytelling, and there's a lot to unpack... which I won't do, both because I don't want to deal with any spoilers and also because I don't think I have the proper skill to fully do so. My brain works much better in abstracts and vagueness and hints and subtleties, which makes this film soooooo good for me, but it's also super tough to put into words.
I went into Possessor almost completely blind. I didn't really know what this film was about, since I only partially skimmed the blurb on Letterboxd over a month ago when I was making my horror hunt list (and a month after skimming something, it's pretty much deleted from my brain). I didn't watch the trailer. I didn't even look at any friend reviews on here beyond star ratings. I also didn't look at the cast or crew or anything like that, so I didn't know it was directed by Brandon Cronenberg, or that he's David Cronenberg's son, until right as the film was starting. I didn't know to expect amazing practical effects but damn did I get them. There's some absolutely visceral, gut-wrenching stuff in this film, including my personal nemesis of body horror particulars, which made me physically cringe.
That's a lot of didn'ts, so let me get into some dids/dos: I did enjoy the absolute fuck out of this. I honestly don't even know where to start, so like I said at the beginning, I'll mostly not bother with trying to explain to you why this film was amazing, an experience. I do love that we're thrown right into the story and how it's different from the way we live, and the differences are told through context. One of my FAVORITE things in films or books is figuring things out as we go along, rather than having some wall of text on screen or some character monologue give me everything. I like putting the pieces together and inferring things from context; it makes me feel like I'm part of the world-building.
I also love the use of different camera angles and what I can only affectionately call "melty weird shit" visuals. Flickering images, odd mergings and meltings of memories/perceptions/outlooks/directives, upside downs and reflections, rotating cameras... there's a lot of cool shit but it didn't feel gimmicky. The use of handheld cams giving the film a distinctly lived-in and warm feel to something that could have easily been left slightly futuristic, cold, and sterile was such a good choice and made the absolute invasive nature of the story feel even more real. And this is on top of a film that's shot beautifully even without all the odd distortions and angles. AND on top of the amazing use of color. Every scene and every setting has a tone to it, always building toward something - no wasted screen time here. The use of vibrant greens, cooling blues (both bright pops and more soothing color grades), and especially red, are pervasive but used immaculately. Because of the shifting and flickering nature of this story, none of the colors showing up feels overdone. Color is used to give us mood cues, reality cues, maybe psychosis cues, and are either helping to ground us or make our viewing experience spin further out of control.
The first full possession we get to see from the start gave me CHILLS and I don't think I blinked the entire time and my eyes started watering a bit and it might have been from not blinking but I also might have been overwhelmed with enjoyment of what I was seeing. I'm pretty sure I'll never know one way or the other, because when I watch this again (and I am absolutely watching this again), I think the same thing will happen. There's really so much more to say about this film but I just can't, and I'd rather anyone reading this go watch it instead of reading me babble on about things.
The combination of directing and cinematography and art style is just stunning and I'd recommend Possessor on that alone, but also on the story alone, so put them together and... why aren't you watching it yet?