Possessor

Possessor ★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

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Not as obsessively bodily as much of his father’s work—which is, for me, a good thing—but appropriately creepy when it decides to be either grotesque (that mask…ugh) or downright gruesome (the teeth…the eyeball…the fingers…), distributing its unsettling attributes little by little in a multitude of ways. Deceptively nuanced, too; Christopher Abbott genuinely looks as though he’s lost within his own body, and his psychological game of King of the Hill unfolds with exceptional elegance. Cronenberg even throws in some subtle clues to constantly underscore the narrative concepts e.g. the way Colin slices his morning apple in the same unique pattern as Tasya though little if any attention is called directly to the act. It just occurs, nonchalantly, and is never mentioned explicitly by any external characters, nor is it awarded some highlighting technique like a close zoom or lingering shot. Applaud Cronenberg’s commitment to the occasional kaleidoscopes of uncomfortable visual abstraction, too, despite POSSESSOR’s outwardly appearance of a more readily digestible horror film. Failed to totally blow me away, though, for reasons I can’t necessarily explain. There are questions of logic, sure, but the whole thing operates on a plane of suspended disbelief, so I can forgive most of that stuff. It doesn’t take long to figure out what’s going on and what’s probably going to happen; ergo when it does happen, it isn’t especially revelatory or shocking. I even proudly called Jason Leigh’s intervention in the final act moments before it unfolded, and while I love the foggy motive (i.e. was she doing the only thing she could do to save Tasya, or was this entire encounter a premeditated maneuver to have Tasya all to herself?), I can’t say the execution was terribly exciting beyond what I was already anticipating. Wish there were longer stretches devoted to the BLACK SWAN-esque superimpositions of psyche, or at least a meatier dissection of Tasya’s headspace as she assumes the remote body. (One gets the impression this is her first time inside of a man, the way she hesitantly examines his hardware in the mirror or has a huge crisis of identity during intercourse, but these ideas are never evolved.) Feels like a lot of hot air when the credits roll. But the superficial pleasures were more than enough to sustain my interest, and, for the most part, Cronenberg’s slow percolation of information kept me on my toes.

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