Possessor is an indie scifi horror movie written and directed by Brandon Cronenberg. Horror buffs will of course recognise the name Cronenberg. Brandon is the son of iconic film-maker David Cronenberg, director of movies like The Fly, Dead Ringers, Scanners, Rabid et al.
This might not be the best way to start a review and might be a tad unfair to Brandon Cronenberg to compare his work to that of his illustrious father but facts are facts. Possessor is Cronenberg junior’s second movie and it is possessed (sorry) of an intriguing premise but lacks perhaps the critical execution.
The story concerns a contract killer named Tasya Vos (Andrea Riseborough) who commits the murders by ‘possessing’ unwilling collaborators who actually carry out the deed. These ‘unwilling collaborators’ are abducted and implanted with a device that allows said control to take place. Typically, the collaborators will be pushed to suicide as the possessor exits from the mind control.
This premise allows for a shift in the protagonist dynamic as it highlights ultimately a struggle for control between our notional main character Vos and her ‘unwilling collaborator’ Colin Tate (Christopher Abbott). In the movie, Tate drives the narrative but the person in control can be either Vos and subsequently, Tate himself.
The story also works well within an austere budget as the conflict is really taking place within Tate’s mind and permits an ambiguity that creates and maintains tension and conflict throughout the movie. The scifi elements are simply props for the key question of identity and control.
In that respect, Possessor does a good job but fails to flesh out the two protagonists beyond the events of the movie itself. That would the primary flaw with the writing as it is difficult to engage with either character as we know very little about them.
Predictably, things go very wrong but it’s not clear why these difficulties present themselves. Sure, there are hints that all is not well with Vos but the story never goes deeper into these issues. Not only that but the story climax employs a deus ex machina which is less than satisfactory.
Still, Possessor is worth watching for its intriguing premise alone, even if its third act is less than perfect. Certainly, the movie reveals Brandon Cronenberg to be a promising talent. Hopefully, he continues to develop his craft. Recommended.
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