'Possessor Uncut' Is a Riveting Horror Thriller from Another Cronenberg Directed by Brandon Cronenberg

Starring Andrea Riseborough, Christopher Abbott, Jennifer Jason Leigh
'Possessor Uncut' Is a Riveting Horror Thriller from Another Cronenberg Directed by Brandon Cronenberg
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No one likes nepotism, and for good reason. After all, from the outside it looks as if someone's been afforded undeserved opportunities due to the sheer luck of being born into the right family. Criticisms like these were lodged against Brandon Cronenberg — yes, that Cronenberg family — when he released his divisive debut Antiviral. But with Possessor Uncut he's absolutely risen to the calling, doing his family name justice with a heady, high-concept thriller.

To be clear, his father David's influence resonates in the film, which includes scenes of grotesque, bloody violence that show, well, just about everything. But rather than pure horror, the grotesque violence services a dystopian thriller.

Andrea Riseborough stars as Tasya Vos, an agent that works for a sinister assassin agency that uses brain implant technology to kill off targets for an elite clientele. When she's implanted in the mind of Colin Tate (Christopher Abbott), however, things start to go haywire as his mind battles the body for control.

What makes Possessor Uncut so compelling is Cronenberg's ability to go off the deep end without fully losing grasp on the narrative world he's created. The result is a dystopian tech thriller that indulges in plenty of abstract, expressionistic segments that almost look like modern art video installations — but they're all rooted in the twisty world he's built. As such, it's a film that feels both underground and mainstream, pairing surrealist cinematography with pieces of Brazil, Avatar, Being John Malkovich, Under the Skin and The Matrix while still maintaining its own strong identity.

The last name will surely still have some audience members rankled as they consider the underground, underprivileged filmmakers who don't have the same resources at their disposal. But Cronenberg's done a bang-up job with the lot he's been given, and Possessor Uncut is destined to be a cult favourite for years to come.

(Elevation Pictures)