Eight years after his feature directorial debut “Antiviral” premiered at Cannes and went on to win the the Best Canadian First Feature Film prize at TIFF, Brandon Cronenberg returned in a big way in 2020 with the world premiere of his new project at Sundance. That project is a gruesome body horror-thriller titled “Possessor,” which stars a powerhouse indie film duo in leading actors Andrea Riseborough and Christopher Abbott.
“Possessor” finds Cronenberg playing in the same science-fiction horror sandbox as “Antiviral,” only this time he escalates the body horror to such gory extremes that his father David Cronenberg must certainly be proud.
“Possessor” stars Riseborough as Tasya Vos, a corporate agent who uses brain-implant technology to inhabit other people’s bodies in order to commit assassinations for the benefit of the company. Per Sundance’s synopsis: “While Tasya has a special gift for the work, her experiences on these jobs have caused a dramatic change in her. In her own life, she struggles to suppress violent memories and urges. As her mental strain intensifies, she begins to lose control, and soon she finds herself trapped in the mind of a man (Abbott) whose identity threatens to obliterate her own.
In his review out of Sundance, IndieWire senior film critic David Ehrlich called “Possessor” a “gory techno-thriller,” adding the film is a “queasy and intriguing mix of ‘Mandy,’ ‘Inception,’ and ‘Ghost in the Shell.'” Ehrlich continued, “90 minutes of Andrea Riseborough and Christopher Abbott engaging in ultra-gory psychic warfare over control of the latter’s body is more satisfying than what most of this year’s Best Picture nominees had to offer. … ‘Possessor’ never manages to wrest control of your mind, but it’s unnervingly good at getting under your skin.”
“Possessor” became one of the most talked-about horror films at Sundance this year and distributor Neon is surely hoping all the talk about the film’s gruesome thrills will generate the kind of word of mouth to make the film a summer hit. Neon has been enjoying success this summer season, despite the pandemic, thanks to acclaimed releases “Spaceship Earth,” “Shirley,” and “Palm Springs.”
Neon will release “Possessor” later this year. Watch the first trailer for the body horror thriller in the video below.