Brandon Cronenberg's Possessor Uncut is a stylish hybrid, blending together high-concept sci-fi with full-blown body horror. It's frightening, disturbing and intriguing all in one -- thanks to Cronenberg's unflinching vision, Andrea Riseborough's committed performance and a series of gore-heavy sequences that will implant into your brain for years to come.
Director Brandon Cronenberg (Antiviral) returns to the big screen with Possessor Uncut, a film that feels like Inception with an R-rated edge and an unfiltered approach in tackling its seedy and downright disturbing concept. Cronenberg brings the goods as far as blood and gore is concerned, while Andrea Riseborough and Christopher Abbott are more than capable of providing complex, if not downright confusing performances that truly capture this wild ride.
Tasya Vos (Andrea Riseborough) is an agent working for a secretive organization that has found a way to tap into another human being via a brain implant connection. They use this connection to make their hosts commit assassinations and murder for the highest-paying client.
Tasya comes highly-requested, having completed numerous successful missions, without revealing to her higher-ups (Jennifer Jason Leigh) that she is clearly cracking and losing her edge.
Each connection with a host presents a certain amount of danger for both parties, with Tasya’s mind literally fusing together with the host in a way that can only be described as a lucid dream. The longer the agent stays connected; the weaker the connection becomes and the higher likelihood of permanent damage sets in.
Still, after completing another successful, albeit sloppy mission, Tasya demands to go back in, with her latest target being Colin Tate (Christopher Abbott).
She must quickly take control of his body to assassinate his girlfriend’s dad, a powerful figure in the tech industry (played with smug brilliance by Sean Bean). The mission itself seems like another straight-forward bloodbath, but Tasya quickly loses control as her brain turns into soup and Colin’s inner-self starts fighting back.
Brandon Cronenberg‘s Possessor Uncut is by far the bloodiest movie that I have seen in quite some time and luckily for us, Cronenberg and his team of FX people accomplish most (if not all?) of this practically. Hours before viewing this film I was thinking to myself about how disappointed I normally am with modern day horror movies and their reliance on CGI and then Cronenberg comes in and has me hold his beer.
Possessor Uncut is brutal. This is a film that starts out with a violent throat-meets-knife collision, only to follow that up with eyeballs getting yanked out, amongst other bloodbaths that absolutely take this thing to the next level.
I hate overshadowing Brandon’s sheer talent and visual eye to comment on the fact that he is the son of David Cronenberg — a director known for his own use of graphical violence. There’s no doubt that Brandon learned a thing or two from pa, but I must say that Brandon’s ability to infuse such violence with high-concept sci-fi/horror is stunning and an achievement that doesn’t need to constantly be compared to his father’s legacy.
Antiviral proved that Cronenberg had a twisted eye and now Possessor Uncut shows that he can take things a step further.
This movie reminded me very much of Inception, only if Christopher Nolan had the balls to go R-rated and to really dive into the trippy subconscious. Cronenberg is unafraid to present the messy trips going on inside the heads of both the agent and the host, presenting us with a visual scrapbook of screams and horror in a way that translates the character’s emotions and feelings almost perfectly.
At one point, Andrea Riseborough‘s Tasya is inside of Christopher Abbott‘s Colin and the two fight back-and-forth over control of his functions and it’s a wild ride that cannot be explained, but instead must be experienced.
Watching the two wage war over Colin’s soul is mighty interesting and an examination of corporate greed, power and control — literally by taking over one’s own “free will” for political or social gain.
Possessor Uncut is a bleak and depressing piece of social commentary on our current climate and our own obsession with technology and our want as humans to continue to push the envelop until there’s absolutely no going back.
Can you imagine living in a world where big companies like Apple or Google could literally hack into your brain and make you carry out their own personal agenda? You become just another disposable tool or item that will easily be replaced, much like their approach to us with modern day advertising across social media platforms.
Cronenberg darkly touches up on this in a way that can be seen as slightly comical, but mostly comes across as a hot frying pan across the face — leaving that lingering burn that sears the cheek muscles into bits of burnt meat.
It’s a gross way to look at it, but boy does Possessor Uncut go for it. This is a high-concept story that’s scarily relevant and Cronenberg presents it through a lens of destruction. Violence is uncut (like the new title suggests) and it helps hit the hammer on the head even more, leaving you with a sequence of visuals that are surely going to be burned into your brain for months, if not years to come.
Please, keep giving Brandon Cronenberg all of the money that he wants to explore such stories through his perspective, because he’s bringing a kind of energy that has been missing in cinema for years and I welcome any and all future films of his.
Possessor Uncut is not for those looking for a mind-bend without the bloodshed nor is it for those looking for something more polished and lacking of any real unique substance. This is a film that knows when it should spend time expanding the trippy aesthetics or when it should cut to the point and shoot someone in the back of the head.
Everything about Possessor Uncut is calculated and can be interpreted in a million different ways, which is why Brandon Cronenberg needs to keep making movies like this without studio interference. He’s got a heck of an eye and I can’t wait to see what he does next.