Brandon Cronenberg Returns with a Powerful New Sci-fi/Horror
DIRECTED BY BRANDON CRONENBERG/2020
Brandon Cronenberg makes movies in the same vein as his father, except to those who are complete fanatics of David, you will also be able to tell they have completely different voices.
Both filmmakers explore the beauty and horrors of science and body horror, though Brandon seems to have more of a coldness towards his subjects, as opposed to David who seems to think man, to an extent, can conquer the horrors of science. Brandon takes more a nihilistic approach to the battle with a bleakness that runs through every frame of his films.
In his newest movie, Possessor, Tasya Vos (Andrea Risenborough, who is a chameleon of an actor) plays a corporate assassin who uses body-inhabiting to take over, or possess, another person to commit an important murder. But from the beginning, she has worries of remnants of prior people she’s possessed becoming a part of her. The science is inexact, and she knows each time she goes in, it becomes more and more dangerous.
Once she enters her newest target, Colin (Christopher Tate), with a mission to kill his rich fiancée and her CEO father James (Sean Bean), immediately she realizes something is wrong. She is more intertwined with the host this time and in less control of her actions. Immediately her supervisor, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, can also sense this time is different.
Possessor is a tense ride through a bleak and stylized world. It’s a movie that will be respected on release, loved by some, but dissected as time goes on, causing its stature to rise. It’s a movie that can be read many different ways. With a similar plot to The Matrix, it’ll be read similalrly as a trans metaphor, which is a reading that the trans directors of The Matrix deny as intentional, but it feels much more forwardly addressed in Possessor.
It can also be read as a metaphor for our online actions, primarily through social media, and how we do not have consequences for our actions. What happens when you upset the wrong person and the façade you hide behind is permanent.
I suspect though that Cronenberg would, like the Wachowskis, either deny or refuse to confirm any reading as it may feel reductive and overly linear. He also seems like a filmmaker who has more questions than answers. As I was watching Possessor, that struck me. How nowadays it feels that films are more exclamation marks that question marks. A lot of that is a reflection of our society and our politics, which is absent of much nuance, so it makes sense films follow path. So it was nice to go into a world that is as strange as it is identifiable and work out some deeper questions about how we effect others through an ever expanding scientific and technological world and what exactly is our responsibility to it.