Possessor

Written by Nick McCann

95/100

It fills me with joy when filmmakers have kids that go on to do filmmaking of their own. Enter David Cronenberg, the king of body horror! His movies over the years raised as many social and thematic questions as they did drain blood out of people. Now comes his son Brandon, following in his footsteps with something that’s as entertainingly gross as it is thought provoking!

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Possessor moves at a methodical pace, slowly building it’s world when appropriate and taking the viewer on an increasingly crazy trip. It leaves plenty up for interpretation. I’m still going over details in my head as of this writing, but I could see some parallels to topics of invasive technology, identity and others. All while the plot goes in a couple of neat and unexpected directions! Even with some parts that are slower than others, nothing feels unimportant.

With the Cronenberg name also comes the trademark bloodshed. Again, Brandon takes nicely after his father. The violence adds to the story rather than simply exploiting content. That’s great on top of the effects simply looking solid in their disturbing nature. This may be some of the best practical work and make-up I’ve watched all year! It’s composed to a degree that reminded me slightly of the tangibility found in 80’s horror. Whether it be shootings, stabbings or other nasty details in between, there’s genuine creativity and craft on display. It’s plain gnarly.

It’s backed up with a good cast that looks well suited for the world they roam. So good that I can honestly listen to them talk cerebral sci-fi for a good hour! Andrea Riseborough once again shines, with her most strung out emotional state that’s felt even in places where she isn’t on camera. I also gotta give props to Christopher Abbot! That guy I genuinely believed he wasn’t the person he was. At a point, his performance only gets better thereon. Jennifer Jason Leigh should not be ignored either, being a reserved foil to Riseborough. Top it off with a delightfully scummy Sean Bean and you really don’t have a weak link on screen. They have strong dialog and interesting characters to take their time with for excellent results.

Cinematography looks incredible, with particularly interesting uses of dead space and PLENTY of psychedelic colors. This combined with the editing gives off a mood that’s intense on a subconscious level. It’s about the ideal joining of Inception and Scanners, in the weirdest and best way I can put it. Just as it should, everything on screen is reflecting the subsurface hectic feeling in the plot. All of it strung along with the menacing drone of the score that had my heart pounding a bit.

This is strange. Possessor is an arthouse horror movie that I actually mostly get and enjoy! It asks many questions and succeeds in following through on its varied concepts. Equally entertaining in it’s shocking bits of carnage as it is ponderous about the bigger picture. Most won’t get it or be really turned on by it, but I’m jiving good with it. It’s a thinking man’s blood fest. 

Highly Recommended.

Possessor is part of the Vancouver International Film Festival 2020 line up.

VIFF Website: https://viff.org/Online/

Tenet

Written by Taylor Baker

86/100

Nolan revisits all the pieces of formulaic ingenuity that have risen him to the pinnacle of non-franchise blockbuster cinema, and it’s fun. The whole time you’re there, it’s a good time. When it’s done, you feel mostly satisfied, but that thing from Inception and Interstellar, the longing for a better understanding of the film. That is absent. The sheer emotional ride of Dunkirk leading you out the doors of the cinema winded, is also absent. But you had a fantastic time keeping up thru the spectacle of it all and seeing glorious movie stars projected on a screen with some of the largest action set pieces you’ll ever witness.

At bottom Tenet feels like a live concert from Nolan. Some of his greatest hits strung together in different ways than they were before. The fun of the premise is assuredly there, but the substance is notably absent. And I think I’m mostly okay with that. But after the runtime I am also filled with a deep longing to see him shoot a walk and talk that doesn’t include exposition in every drop of dialogue.

First trip to a theater in 6 months, it felt good to be back.

PS: While WB is developing shows on HBO based on their blockbuster films in 2020, I’d appreciate them greenlighting a TV-MA show centered around whatever Aaron Taylor-Johnson does outside of what we see in the movie.

Taylor Baker originally posted this review on Letterboxd 08/31/20

Tenet is currently in theaters.