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Review: Gory 'Possessor' a blood-drenched head trip

Brandon Cronenberg serves up a violent sci-fi shocker

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic

A smart, squeamish, gory sci-fi horror thriller that is equal parts stimulating and repulsive, "Possessor" presents an intense, original and fascinating vision. 

Writer-director Brandon Cronenberg, son of legendary director David Cronenberg, delivers an engrossing story that builds upon his dad's fascination with body horror, and follows in his footsteps with several sequences that will make even the most fiendish of gore hounds wince. Like father, like son.  

Christopher Abbott in "Possessor."

Andrea Riseborough stars as Tasya Vos, a highly accomplished body possession assassin. Let's walk that back a bit: Tasya works for a corporation that, through brain-implant technology, allows agents to take control of people's bodies and use them to commit hired killings. After leaving their host body dead through an act of suicide, agents are rigorously quizzed on their own memories, so they can remember who they are before moving on to their next act of possession. 

Except Tasya is having problems separating herself from her hosts, and matters are complicated when she inhabits the body of Colin Tate (Christopher Abbott, excellent as usual), who is in a relationship with the daughter of a high-powered figure (Sean Bean) who Tasya's company wants dead. A push-pull is established between Tasya and Colin, and neither is sure who is entirely in control of their body and mind. 

Cronenberg creates a cold, eerie atmosphere from the outset, as he builds toward shocking bursts of gore and violence. (The film is billed as "uncut," and it pushes well past established R-rated boundaries.) 

Yet its shocks are in service of its story, and Cronenberg plays with issues of body and identity in an extreme, audacious ways. Think of it as "Parasite," the literal version.

agraham@detroitnews.com

@grahamorama

'Possessor'

GRADE: B

Not rated: Extreme violence, gore and sexual situations

Running time: 104 minutes

At Ford Wyoming Drive-In