Possessor

Possessor ★★★★

For a while I thought I might be watching a new masterpiece, so if I ultimately came down on the side of this merely being very, very good? Well... don't take it as too much of a slight.

This was written and directed by Brandon Cronenberg and he shares his father, David Cronenberg's passion for body horror, particularly as it intersects with technological paranoia. In this case, with the high-concept premise of -- what if an assassin could hijack your body, killing those close to you by weaponizing their closeness?

That notion could be played any number of ways, and -- insomuch as I gave this 4 stars instead of 5 -- you can chalk up that missing star to the moments where more conventional thriller plotting and surprises take over, making this feel a little more conventional.

However, most of this movie is far from conventional, to its great strength. For instance -- we've seen science fiction stories someone entering another's consciousness many times, and movies tend to rely on the same easy visual shorthand. Here, Brandon Cronenberg opts for something far more organic and disturbing, in imagery I haven't really seen before.

Also, far too many movies involving assassins expect us to sympathize with a hero who's a murderer for hire. While you may come to identify with her, as the main character, this film never asks you to think of our lead as anything but a very sick person -- perhaps a monster. The fascination comes less from our empathy, than from trying to dissect her psyche. Does she do this because she's come to love the sex, violence, and control? Does she intuit some basic emptiness inside her that leads her to only feel whole as another person? Has she grown addicted to the experience of living life after life without consequences? Is there something inherent to living life through that scrim that inherently erodes morality?

And as the film goes on, which are her own motivations, and which are the motivations of the host? Who's in control? Does it matter?