Polygon’s home entertainment group is on the ground at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, bringing you initially looks at what make certain to be a few of the year’s finest blockbuster-alternative offerings. Here’s what you require to know prior to these indie films make their way to theaters, streaming services, and the cinematic zeitgeist.
Logline: An assassin who hacks and takes control of individuals’s bodies to complete her tasks finds herself caught in a male unwilling to go down without a battle.
Longerline: Possessor stars Andrea Riseborough as Tasya Vos, a mother of a young kid, a partner separated from her partner, and a for-hire killer who can download her awareness into targets’ brains in order to covertly enact bloody murder in the name of business interests. She has … a lot on her mind.
Exiting and re-entering her brain strains Tasya’s psyche, but her employer (Jennifer Jason Leigh) demands another urgent job: the triple murder of a high-profile CEO, his daughter, and Colin (Christopher Abbott), the child’s partner, who will be Tasya’s lorry for all three murders. The thorough assassin accepts, and after kidnapping Colin and injecting a cyberpunky implant into his skull, she’s off to the murderous races.
Tasya’s worn down mind leaves Colin with the wiggle room he requires to preserve a form of control. What follows is a messed up operation, to put it in spoiler-free terms, and a violent identity crisis.
The quote that says everything: [Blood-spurting sound of cleaver repeatedly hacking into a human torso.]
What’s it trying to do? With Holder, Brandon Cronenberg ( Antiviral) gets the body-horror baton from his dad, Videodrome director David Cronenberg, and rams it into the audience’s collective eye. The movie is relentless and artistic exploitation, less worried with blunt messaging than blunt-force trauma. There’s loads of literal gore– every stabbing in Holder sets about 28 stabs longer than your typical slasher would stab– and the abstract battle staged in Colin’s mind. Sequences in which Colin grapples Tasya on the esoteric aircraft mix the retro surrealism of films like Mandy with monstrous prosthetics and liquifying visual results.
Holder strings together its gory series with a spy-movie rate. Cronenberg’s approach to exposition is generally the anti- Beginning, leaving the guidelines and character measurement unspoken in order to cut straight to the horror.
Does it get there? Possessor works since there’s more than blood pumping through its veins. The motion picture as agency and technological thrall on its mind, with Tasya’s assassination work mirroring Colin’s day job as an information tracker who taps customer web cams to log to log house providing products and track purchasing practices. Every person in this dystopian future is having their strings pulled by an undetectable other. Cronenberg makes his difficult sci-fi point in gruesome style.
The extreme violence, which Cronenberg typically shoots with close-ups that will tickle special-effect makeup geeks, eventually bolsters the bigger picture. Tasya is being pressed to the brink to do the job, and at the expense of her synapses. Colin, though driven by another individual, has blood on his hands, and ends up being distinct sort of noir sleuth at the same time. Anything can occur, and whatever does take place. From the conjured hell emerge 2 discordant, human performances out of Riseborough and Abbott.
What does that get us? An extremely entertaining motion picture that’ll probably end up with an NC-17 ranking. In spite of the taboo honor, Possessor also has the ideal balance of world-building and obscurity to be a conversation starter. Family plays an essential role in Tasya’s strange career choice, and the influence of corporate forces becomes a central sticking point as the motion picture drills down towards a conclusion. Themes of gender, class, and financial warfare are all on the table. But horror is the clear top priority for Cronenberg, and by god, the flesh injuries are jaw-dropping. Perhaps even jaw-removing?
The most meme-able minute: Depends if individuals can post disembodied fingers on Tumblr without getting banned.
When can we see it? Possessor is an independent production that premiered at Sundance, and it’s presently looking for distribution.