Possessor

Possessor ★★★★★

Tasya Vos is an assassin who hijacks the body of someone close to her target, murders them, and then leaps back out via a bullet to the brain. It’s the perfect crime, but it’s also utterly devastating. Not only does a possessor kill their target, but they ruin their host’s life before also killing them. Or at least, that’s how it’s supposed to work, but recently Vos has been having trouble pulling the trigger to complete her host’s “suicide.” During a job to kill the CEO of an enormous tech company, she hops into Colin Tate, an employee of the company and also the boyfriend of the CEO’s daughter. When the job goes bad, her attempt to exit Tate fails and she ends up stuck in his body, with Tate in control. What follows is a battle of wills as Vos (with assistance from the agency she works for) tries to finish the mission and escape while Tate struggles to survive and understand why he has done the terrible things Vos did while in control. Their memories begin to merge and blend and melt together in one of the weirdest and best effects I’ve seen in a while.

The kills, when they occur, are messy and intense. And by messy, I mean “stab the victim 22 times” messy. Usually, when I think about assassins, they’re precise. They are either long-range snipers or stealthy ninja types. I suppose a possessor is essentially the perfect ninja; after all, nothing is more stealth than hiding inside a person that has access to your target. The assassinations being so brutal feels strange because usually on film or television a professional killer would take care to be clean and leave no trace. But when you’re using someone else’s body, that becomes less of a concern. In fact, maybe the agency wants these killings to be messy in order to appear more like crimes of passion.

If there was a little more drug use, I could almost mistake this for a Philip K. Dick story. I caught some faint whiffs of Ghost in the Shell as well, even though there are no androids here. There are a couple great supporting turns from Jennifer Jason Leigh as Vos’s handler and Sean Bean as the tech company CEO, but the film is carried by excellent performances from the leads, Andrea Riseborough and Christopher Abbott as Vos and Tate. The ending is bleak and perfect. This is science fiction at its gut-wrenching best.

Viewed as part of History of Horror 2021 and Hooptober 8.

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