SUNDANCE 2020 FILM REVIEW! In just his second feature, Brandon Cronenberg has delivered the first great sci-fi horror movie of the decade with POSSESSOR. The premise; In the future corporations use internal agents to inhabit innocent people’s bodies in order to carry out high-profile assassinations for strategic gains. Tanya Vos (Andrea Riseborough) is one such agent. In fact, she’s the star player at her secretive killing firm. But when the brain implant process takes its toll during an assignment, she begins to lose a grip on her own identity. Exploring self and identity, POSSESSOR deftly navigates heady material in a sci-fi horror candy coating, delivering a challenging ferocious film.

The action and concept are presented straight away with a bloody assassination in a nightclub. Miles away, Tanya lays on a white leather chaise with her head in a contraption guiding the host body from afar. Once the deed is done, she is to kill her host body with a shot to the head and come out of her technological trance. Yet with this latest “contract” her boss, Girder (Jennifer Jason Leigh) notices that Tanya is losing her grip on identity. Hesitant, Tanya accepts one last job in the form of Colin (Christopher Abbott) a coked-out rich boy with access to the CEO of a major tech company. The goal is to inhabit Colin’s body and have it murder Colin’s soon-to-be father in law John Parse (Sean Bean). After going home to visit her estranged husband and 7-year-old son, Tanya returns to the facility to complete her final assassination.

Cronenberg’s script convinces us that this world is real by sprinkling random details of the technology in context rather than explaining things laboriously. We watch the process and hear just enough technobabble to believe it and then we are off and running. To this end, Leigh’s understated performance as the superior, yet calm puppetmaster at the firm is grounded and unsettling. She knows exactly what she is doing, she is calm, in control and simply about business.

After kidnapping Colin and implanting the device in his brain, Tanya transfers into Colin’s body and assumes his life. In a brilliant pair of performances, Abbot and Riseborough make us believe that Tanya is, in fact, inhabiting a very alien male body. Standing before a mirror just after the transfer, Abbot portrays Tanya exploring her new host, lightly feeling the skin, looking at the odd genitalia in the front, and still trying to act as normal as possible while interacting with the people that knew Colin before being taken over. The two create a seamless illusion of a single personality. Then trouble ensues. Glitches in the technology making this possible are creating artifacts, hallucinations, and unpredictable behavior. Worse still, Colin’s hijacked personality begins fighting its way back to the surface. Will Tanya get the job done? Will Colin take over and trap Tanya in his body forever?

Possessor explores all of the existential dilemmas this idea can afford to a frightening degree while telling an absorbing tale of corporate espionage. Cronenberg has created a mind-bending trip of a movie with more to say than your average actioner and is supported by spectacular performances and make-up and practical effects that seal the deal. Brace yourself. Possessor is brilliant.

9 out of 10 stars

This film screened at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.

RATING: UR No Trailer Available
Runtime: 1hr 44 Mins.
Directed By:
Brandon Cronenberg
Written By:
Brandon Cronenberg

About the Author: Norman Gidney

Norm(an) Gidney is a nearly lifelong horror fan. Beginning his love for the scare at the age of 5 by watching John Carpenter's Halloween, he set out on a quest to share his passion for all things spooky with the rest of the world.
By Published On: January 26, 2020Categories: Sundance FIlm FestivalComments Off on Possessor is One of the Best Sci-Fi Horror in Years SUNDANCE 2020Tags: , , , ,