Denver Grenell’s review published on Letterboxd:
Looks like the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree in the case of David Cronenberg’s son Brandon who with his 2nd film Possessor revels in the body horror meets espionage vibes of his Dad’s films such as Scanners & Existenz among others.
Andrea Riseborough is Vos, a corporate assassin who is implanted into the minds of people to inhabit their body in order to carry out suspicion free executions. The movie opens with one such mission which ends in spectacularly bloody fashion, albeit successfully as far as her boss (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is concerned.
We then see Vos connect with her estranged partner & son, with a reconciliation set to be on the cards - after one more mission. And this mission puts her inside the head of Colin (Christopher Abbot) whose partner & father are the targets. And then shit goes really bad, as it tends to do in these sorts of films.
Possessor is Cronenbergian in every possible way - icy, slow moving, strange and very violent. The violence here almost reaches French Extremity levels - lots of blood, closeups of wounds & sticky sound FX. There are some interesting ideas at play here such as the more Vos inhabits other people, the more of herself (& her humanity) are lost along the way.
Riseborough & Abbot are both really good here, essentially playing each other at various points in the film. Riseborough even outbleaks her episode of Black Mirror “Crocodile”, possibly the bleakest that show ever got. Abbott is both sympathetic & coolly sinister at different times - a tricky performance that he nails.
As much as I was down with everything on display here, I can’t help but feel the film isn’t breaking any new ground in the sci-fi body horror genre. There is also an almost unbearable bleakness to the whole thing that culminates in a mean spirited but appropriate ending, which won’t send you out of the theatre on a high note! Still recommended though as a bleak, moody headfuck.
Seen as part of @terrorfifest