Name Not Given’s review published on Letterboxd:
The last half an hour or so of ‘Possessor’ is phenomenal. It is thrilling, brutal and twisted and is everything that I want from a film like this. Questions relating to the nature of identity are brought up and it leaves us, as a viewer, to find out our own answers, and these answers are frequently terrifying. The film as a whole is hugely atmospheric, and each individual frame seems to be meticulously crafted. This is clearly the work of an auteur, and although this is his debut, Cronenberg is incredibly confident. If this is anything to go by, whilst his father was interested in the scarring of the body, Brandon seems to be interested in the scarring of the mind, and he has channelled his interest into something truly riveting.
Cronenberg has created a rich world here, and he makes the most of it. Characters interact coldly and work like clockwork. Despite the sci-fi and horror influences at the heart of ‘Possessor,’ this is a very real film, about loneliness and detachment. The film is cold and clinical, because the world it depicts and the characters it depicts are cold and clinical. One of the most frightening aspects of this film is not the concept itself, but the lack of hesitation. There is a lot of violence here, yet there is no guilt surrounding it, and that little hint of emotion or remorse that is still there at the beginning, is dead by the end. Even more frighteningly however is the fact that this feels so relevant.
It is clear that Young Cronenberg is incredibly talented at directing, with all honesty however, I wish I could say the same for his writing. He can come up with brilliant setups, and whilst he manages to raise some very interesting questions near the end, the beginning leaves a lot to be desired. Character motivations are convoluted, and whilst the lack of motivation may have been the point, that aspect seems to be due to more of a lack of development than anything else. To give credit where due however, all of the actors do deliver superb performances, especially Abbott, thus we do feel engaged with our characters, despite their lack of dimensions.
Yet still, this is a hugely interesting and immersive film. Few debut films are as assured as this one is, and I definitely do not regret spending 100 minutes of my time with this one. As much as I wish that the screenplay went through another draft, I cannot criticise that too much because everything here is handles with so much ease and confidence that I cannot help but be really captivated by this. I cannot wait to see what Cronenberg directs in the future.