Brandon Cronenberg’s Possessor
© Rhombus Media
The resemblance is obvious stylistically and thematically, but Brandon Cronenberg doesn’t seem to want to hide the inspiration, Possessor feels thoroughly original and uses the familiar as a means to drive into new unfamiliar and utterly creative spheres.
Possessor is set in a realistic future where even the most intimate cyber-surveillance of life is not only ubiquitous, but has become accepted. An allusion and extension of our current world, in which corporations penetrate the most private aspects of life and people willingly embrace it.
Cronenberg builds on this idea of a transformation towards a digital society, and pushes it further in which actual physical controls exist. Tanya Vos, the protagonist, works for a company that is capable of transferring consciousness into another body. In this way, assassinations are carried out that leave no trace of the actual perpetrator—the host becomes possessed, so to speak.
In this process, complications arise between body and mind, which becomes the central theme of this film. The duality and mutual interference of body and mind causes the protagonist to become increasingly disoriented, which also reaches us viewer through the metaphysical visualization of this conflict.
Possessor questions the influence exerted by others on the core of the own identity, which is maximized here by the conflation of consciousness. In recurring scenes where Tanya Vos has to shoot herself in the head while in possession of the other body to get back to her own, we see that she cannot separate her supposed self from this physicality.
Ambiguity is ever lingering in her actions, whether she is acting this way herself or the influence of her possessed self is an influencing force. This raises general questions about the sincerity of our sense of identity, which becomes even more apparent when Vos repeats phrases to herself before visiting her family in her own body, seemingly adjusting to the role as wife and mother—just as she has repeatedly learned to adjust herself to the other bodies as well.
The level of brutality felt, contrary to expectation, not excessive. In part, because it never seems like it’s done as a self purpose. Rather, the physical violence always feels in context and exposition of the protagonist’s inner state of mind.
In Possession, the style is also substance. The elements of body horror and the incredibly immersive dystopian world building—everything builds on each other to make us estranged from ourselves.