Possessor (2020) Movie Review
I know you all have Arbor Day plans, but you must cancel them. You’ll thank me later. Why? I know Arbor Day is your favorite holiday. You spend time doing your beloved Arbor Day traditions like planting a tree…planting another tree in a different location, reading books about trees made from paper from a tree you planted 3 weeks ago, watching your favorite tree streaming services, worshipping the dark tree god Dysart and his consort Mifune. Over the years, we’ve all developed out own Arbor Day practices and rituals.
I f*cking love Arbor Day.
We all do. But rest assured, the extremely gory sci-fi horror movie from writer/director Brandon Cronenberg (Antiviral- a movie that feels way too prescient in the age of Covid-19) will make you want to drop your plans, ditch your family, cancel the reservations at your favorite restaurant even knowing that Arbor Day Brunch is their busiest time of the year, and go to the nearest art-house theater complete with $7 bottles of artisan water and ticket takers who are THIS close to finishing a screenplay which you simply must read.
I don’t want to read their screenplay.
No, you don’t. It’s garbage.
But what you will want to do is drive right now to your nearest art-house theater like I mentioned before.
I’m on my way. I’m in the car right now.
Make sure you buy your tickets in advance because so many people are going to abandon their Arbor Day plans to watch this movie.
My state says I have to stay at home, but I want to see this AND get a haircut!
Maybe you should just stay at home. Be safe. Watch something else. No matter how good and gory Possessor is, it’s not worth your life or the risk of getting others sick.
Ahhh no mah rights!!!
Were you trying to say, “I know my rights?” but with a hick accent? Because maybe you could delay your gratification a for a little while. Maybe not be the guy in the movie that everybody yells at because he ruined it for everybody. If this were the 80s, he’d typically be played by Michael Ironside, now I’d guess it’s Christoph Walz.
Anyway, don’t be that guy.
Possessor opens with a young black woman named Holly (Gabrielle Graham) walking into what looks like a pretty high-end party complete with guards, people in suits, illicit substances and a buffet table as long as your arm.
Maybe longer than your arm.
Holly makes her way into the party. She walks with purpose. She’s here to have a good time, maybe network her vlog, eat some hors d'oeuvres but not too many because you want to save some room for the main course, and definitely kill a portly guy that kind of looks like Harvey Weinstein.
None of us would begrudge Holly for killing a Harvey Weinstein.
Holly jabs a knife into his throat and Not-Harvey stains the cheese and crackers red.
Holly pulls a gun out and tries to kill herself but can’t seem to pull the trigger. The cops arrive and have no trouble shooting Holly. This is not the first black person they’ve shot this week. Before Holly dies she says,” Take me out.”
Possessor opens again, this time with a really white woman by the name of Tasya Vos (Andrea Riseborough, from that mediocre Grudge reboot). She’s strapped to a machine and coaxed back into the waking world by her handler named Girder (Jennifer Jason Leigh).
Vos and Girder are, you guessed it, possessors. With their contraption, they possess the body of an unwilling participant and perform covert corporate assassinations in plain sight. They are the best at what they do because they are the only ones that do what they do.
After a possession, Vos is required to take a test to assimilate herself back into her body and into the real world. With every new possession, it’s getting more difficult to get back into her body, get back into her own memories. Girder demands Vos take a break, maybe think about retiring, maybe even replace her when the time comes.
It would be a lot less wear and tear on her body and, more importantly, her mind.
Vos considers a long break. She no longer lives with her husband and son. She goes back home to them for their first family dinner in months.
Vos is clearly not comfortable with mundane family life. She’d much rather be in another person’s body killing someone than spend time with her dorky husband and loser kid.
After an entire day off, Vos really wants to go back to work.
Girder takes her back because Vos is the best. It just so happens Girder has a new assignment.
Vos will possess the body of a hapless corporate underling Colin (Christopher Abbott) whose fiancé Ava (Tuppence Middleton) just happens to be the daughter of the head of a major corporation (Sean Bean) another company wants dead.
It’s just another job for Vos, but sooner rather than later we find out that maybe she should have taken more than a day between possessions because she’s in no shape (mental or physical) to do this, and Colin may have ideas of his own.
Who’s possessing who? You won’t be able to tell until you wipe away the gore.
What Works With Possessor
- It’s difficult to single out a performance because the cast is uniformly perfect. Christopher Abbott shows more shades than you’d thought possible simply based on his previous work. Riseborough almost makes you forget she was in The Grudge. Even the smaller parts help the movie flow as smooth as possible through some of the dead spots.
- Is Jennifer Jason Leigh playing the same character she played in David Cronenberg’s (Brandon’s father and Karen’s mother) Existenz even if the names are different? I’ll say yes because it makes you happy.
- Possibly. No probably, the goriest movie I’ve seen in the past couple of years in terms of looking the most realistic. It’s not carnographic by any means, but you might want to see this about an hour after you’ve eaten. To be safe.
What Doesn’t Work With Possessor
- Is it possible to be enthralled and bored at the same time? I would have thought ‘no’ before I saw Possessor. Be warned, the movie’s not full of cheap Blumhouse scares and there are times when it feels like wheels are spinning and going nowhere. If you can get through those spots, then you’ll be rewarded.
Possessor is one of the most fascinating horror movies of the year. Get through some of the sluggish parts and it may be one of the best. See it at least once and you won’t wish someone possessed you while watching it.