Possessor (Brandon Cronenberg, 2020, Canada/UK/USA)

    Possessor, Brandon Cronenberg's follow-up to his first feature Antiviral, gestated for eight years before finally arriving in 2020. A futuristic horror sci-fi film, the film tells the story of Tasya Vos (Andrea Riseborough), an agent for a mysterious organization carrying out corporate assassinations. The assassinations are carried out by the means of inserting a tool into the victim's brain, after which Tasya is able to control their movements while she is in a semi-conscious state. Cronenberg was apparently inspired by MK-Ultra and various mind control experiments which occurred during the 1950s, particularly the experiments of Jose Delgado. Delgado's experiments involved controlling brains through electrical impulses. One of his most famous experiments - involving stopping a bull from charging through electrical impulses - is featured in the film.

    While the film is not particularly on the science of how the "possession" is working, it is much more interested in the construction of personality. The narrative tension of the film begins to build when one of Tasya's experiments goes wrong. Her victim Colin Tate begins to regain control of his body after committing the assassination. The inner conflict between the two beings is manifested through a series of experimental and avant-garde passages. One particularly creepy instance, involving a mask that is created from Tasya's face, is featured on the poster for the film and is etched in my memory.

    While Possessor has some faults - most notably the plotting drags in certain places - it is nevertheless an interesting film and shows a growing voice for the son of David Cronenberg. Andrea Riseborough as Tasya Vos is cast perfectly, and her victim - played by Christopher Abbott - is able to manifest the sense of a body being occupied through his often hollow expressions. The film's climax is particularly surprising and brutal, enough to make this film worth rewatching.



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