Possessor

Possessor ★★★★

possessor? i barely even know her!

okay, there have been a lot of movies about body swapping but this is the only one i can recall that actually concerns itself with the existential terror of gender dysphoria, explicitly rendering it through viscous body horror.

the film follows andrea riseborough's assassin, who plugs into other people's minds to carry out hits - only to discover that she may be more at home inside a man's body. there's a whole bunch of tech noir bullshit going on that falls into exactly the sort of beats you'd expect, but none of it is as interesting as this central transformation (aside from each scene featuring sean bean in his bitchiest role yet).

it's apparent early on that she feels stifled in her regular body, but slipping into a male one provides its own challenges, from a foreign biological interface to an entirely new performance. it's also resistant to her, requiring tempering with medical supplements. yet it doesn't take long for her to relish in this new vicarious thrill.

of course, body horror films have historically been a goldmine for queer film theory in their preoccupation with the adjunct body and mind, but possessor is refreshingly direct in exploring transgender issues. it's obviously not my place to determine the efficacy of cronenberg jr's approach - there is a moment showcasing melding body forms which arguably borders on the fetishistic - but it's nevertheless nice to see thoughtful queer genre stories, as opposed to the latest ryan murphy netflix thing. also worth noting that cronenberg jr's previous film, antiviral, has been lauded as an example of the transgender horror film - defs keen to give it a look.

it's a shame that the film sometimes looks a bit dull, struggling to outpace even the average doctor who ep these days. however, there is a morbid joy to be had in watching cronenberg jr mine the tension between the film's lacquered digital sheen and the splatterings of repressed viscera erupting from beneath its surface. the near-obsessive attention to gore is also a corrective of sorts, with brandon having expressed contempt for the insidious erasure of gore in cgi hollywood violence, adding a meta layer to the film's tug of war between technology and the human body.

sadly the film gets a bit lost when it breaks out of the autopilot plotting thanks to an interesting complication (spoiled by david ehrlich's review, beware) which it struggles to capitalise on - an extra fifteen minutes could have made this something pretty special. like, i'm not really convinced it has /that/ much to say about bodily autonomy? still a damn treat though, and i can't wait to see it released so that more people can mistake this for a cronenberg sr joint.

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