Possessor (2020)

SPOILERS FOR A RECENTLY RELEASED MOVIE

NOT GOING TO SPOIL THE ENDING BUT I WILL TALK ABOUT SOME PLOT ELEMENTS AS WELL AS THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE CUT AND UNCUT VERSIONS

Sure, I could spend all of January pulling movies straight from the IMDB Bottom 100 and call it a day. Month. Whatever. But things like “bad” and “worst ever” are incredibly subjective. What you think is awful could be another person’s favorite movie. As an example, Diary of a Cannibal–the worst movie I have ever seen and no I will never shut up about that–has reviews on IMDB giving it an 8 and a 10. Are these people deranged? Probably, but you get the idea. So while Possessor has been on several “best of 2020” lists, one anonymous person on Letterboxd said, and I quote, “One of the worst movies we have ever seen.” Flimsy justification on my part to watch a good movie during this month, but someone said it was the worst! So here we are!

Possessor is the second film from Mr. Brandon Cronenberg, son of body horror and psychological thriller master David Cronenberg, and that influence shines through. The movie is about Tasya Vos (Andrea Riseborough, AKA Mandy from Mandy), a professional assassin. But this the near future so her method of murder is taking over the body of a hapless person, committing the crime, then fatally shooting the host body in order to jump back into her own, creating a dead perpetrator and no suspicion on herself or her benefactors. At least, she’s supposed to shoot herself after the murder, but she’s been having trouble with that lately. Her boss, Girder (Jennifer Jason Leigh, AKA Dr. Ventress from Annihilation), tasks her with killing John Parse (Sean Bean) using the body of his daughter’s boyfriend, Colin Tate (Christopher Abbott, AKA Will from the lackluster It Comes at Night). What happens next blurs the line between Vos and Tate, asking what becomes of a person whose job it is to mentally merge with another, unwilling person, and also what happens when everything goes wrong.

I enjoyed this movie, as if not spoiling the ending of a recent movie didn’t give that away. But there’s one relatively minor element that really sells me on the idea that this is a near future cyber-dystopia: We see Voss/Tate at his job, which is to watch the video feeds from a variety of electronic devices around people’s homes and describe–in this particular case–what curtains they have. Why? The implication is this is all for some very targeted advertisements. It’s an absolute invasion of privacy–especially when one camera captures a couple currently having sex–but instead of blackmail, they’re collecting basic information that probably goes towards selling you more shit. Look, I have several real life examples where my phone has suggested content I had never looked into, but my friends and I talked about the day before, so this feels like the grim next step. I mean, assuming they don’t do that already. Excuse me while I go wrap my phone in aluminum foil.

I should’ve paid more attention when getting a digital copy of this movie. And I should’ve paid more attention to the fact that the Rotten Tomatoes page called the film Possessor: Uncut. Turns out the version on Amazon was the “cut” version, which is… disappointing. But from what I can tell the main differences come to about a minute. One very violent attack becomes extremely violent (if you’ve seen it you know the one I’m talking about), and a sex scene where Vos is in Tate’s body shows the two literally becoming one is missing. Oh, and dicks. You get a little male nudity in the normal version, but the uncut apparently has no qualms showing erect penises. Which is fair, you know? How many movies have visible breasts aplenty but no male nudity other than an butt shot? More dicks in film, I say! For, um, equality reasons. Yes, that’s the ticket.


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