Possessor

Possessor ★★★½

If David Cronenberg's name had been under the Directed By credit and this was time stamped at 1994, I don't think anyone would have second-guessed it. This is so "Scanners", "Videodrome", "Existenz". Exact same type of movie, just maybe more low-key. Some mysterious semi-futuristic brain-tampering tech is distorting reality with extremely violent consequences for a handful of people in disturbing ways. One person toying with it becomes too embroiled, tries to escape, unspeakable events ensue, movie ends somewhat abruptly. Sounds familiar!

Brandon Cronenberg isn't trying to match the gooiest, trippiest levels of body horror that pops slimed onto screen during his own heyday, but he does have some freakishly off-putting imagery (that official poster alone with the mask would have scarred me in the best ways if I'd seen it on the shelf at a video store as a kid) and severe takes on gunshots (right in the cheek, with spurts of blood) and beatings (prepare to wince at the use of a fire poker) that really know how to make an impression unlike most movie violence. I'd say make this guy the next Tom Savini if he wasn't already a director.

The story's worthwhile too, though. Concise and minimal, with layers of identity loss, an ending somehow even darker than how this horror show began, and damn good work from Andrea Riseborough (yes her having starred in an episode of "Black Mirror" did inadvertently make me think this could just as well been part of that series as well), Jennifer Jason Leigh (right where she best belongs, in something unsettling), Tuppence Middleton (another former "Black Mirror" lead, now having an impressive moment between this and "Mank"), and especially Christopher Abbott, who like everyone else here is also cornering the market on small indie nightmares (now that "Girls" is over, I've come to associate him more with the likes of "Piercing", "It Comes at Night", "James White" and now this). He captures the subtleties and delirium of a woman hiding inside a man's body.

Honestly more than anything it just felt good to finally get another Cronenberg sci-fi horror experiment after so long. No one does it quite like this family. When's the last time David made one anyway, 21 years ago? (*note: Brandon's 2012 debut "Antiviral" probably counts but I'm not caught up on that)

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