Possessor ★★★★★

Opens with a glossy murder sequence that seems to be the jumping-off point for a glossy techno-thriller, as our killer is revealed to be an assassin who operates by taking over the minds of working stiffs who are in a position to be close enough to various VIPs to carry out quick hits. The unlucky prole chews on a bullet as their possessor blinks out of the equation and returns to her own body. And then the film veers into uncharted territory, as our imperturbable killer (tough, wiry and tender Andrea Riseborough) reveals herself to be distracted by concerns over her disintegrated family life and perhaps unfit to fight back when one of her meat puppets manages to rebel against her control. Part SCANNERS, part EXISTENZ;  I’m kind of stunned, honestly, at how well the younger Cronenberg picks up where his father’s career left off. This is next-gen body horror, informed by its cyberpunk forbears but also up-to-the-minute, with newer ideas about identity, guilt, capitalism, gender and consent all in the mix. It’s also blood-and-guts cinema of a kind more rarely seen these days, with ample sex and gore reminding us of the fragile (and often confusing, or at least disappointing) bags of flesh that surround our souls. What I’m saying is, there’s plenty of shock value here, but also a lot to chew on, and your discomfort is the point. B. Cronenberg delivers the goods emotionally, viscerally and thematically.