Possessor is that rare mindjob of a film that will horrify and fascinate in equal measure. First, a warning, this film is ghastly bloody. I’d say this is a body horror film that just isn’t very scary. Maybe a bloody mindjob thriller is the better way to think about it. But if splatter and crunchy death sequences are a no go for you – PLEASE PASS ON THIS ONE. Possessor is as if you took the cinematic lovechild of Inception, Mandy, and Color out of Space you might have an idea of what we are talking about here. I actually heard it described as an extremely elaborate game of Among Us (yes, that is a link showing you an explainer of the game Among Us if you are old) and yes, my cerebral cortex exploded at the analogy. Such wicked brilliant. But there are going to be a million people that are sitting in a Drive-In going, WHAT THE HECK DID I JUST WATCH?!?! And that is what this primer walk through is all about. So let’s do this thing – Possessor Mindjob Movie Unpacked and Discussed.
OK – it goes without saying – do not keep reading if you haven’t had the chance to watch Possessor Uncut (that’s official title, even though there isn’t a “cut” version.). Got it? And thanks to Neon for the early copy of this movie. I really appreciate the help in getting a chance to watch this crazy film.
Possessor Uncut Full Spoiler Walkthrough
Let’s start with a few rules that define how Possessor Uncut works. Right out of the gate, we learn that Possessor is set in the near future where the technology exists that allows a person to take over another human’s actions. We learn that this technology is manipulated by an unnamed organization that puts hits out on people. We learn that these links are tenuous at best, and that the more a person possesses another the more difficult they will become. Maybe because of the technology, but mainly because of the instability caused by the person initiating the connection. We also know that in order to extract from a neural link, the hit-man is required to cause the host to commit suicide, which then frees the mind to decouple. So yeah, this thing is going to get really bloody really fast.
Tasya Vos (played by Andrea Riseborough, who was epic in Mandy, and Nocturnal Animals) is known as a neural-link hit-man of brilliant renown. Tasya is utilized in a possession that subverts Holly’s (played by Gabrielle Graha) mind. Tasya utilizes Holly to get close to a high powered lawyer named Elio Matza (played by Matthew Garlick) in order to kill him. But instead of using the gun that is in Holly’s purse, Tasya picks up a steak knife and stabs him in the throat, and then in the chest, over and over again. Soon after killing the target, Tasya pulls out of the neural link by forcing Holly to commit suicide.
As Tasya is coming down from the after effects of the neural link, her handler, Girder (played by Jennifer Jason Leigh who you know from Annihilation, and The Jacket) begins to notice anomalies and issues with her coming back to herself. Like for example, why did Tasya use the knife? “Maybe it was more in character,” “Uh, in who’s character?” And it’s then that we realize that Tasya is having serious issues with this setup. Not just with her propensity for blood, but also with how it impacts her son, and her husband. But Tasya convinces Girder that everything is fine – she has no issues. Well, that’s good, because her biggest job is going to be her next one.
So the setup for the next job is to go in as Colin Tate (played by Christopher Abbott who you know from It Comes at Night, and Martha Marcy May Marlene). Tate happens to be the boyfriend of Zoothrough’s owner’s daughter Ava Parse (played by Tuppence Middleton – from War & Peace). Zoothrough seems to be a company that basically takes control of webcams to inventory items of the houses in question – which they then in turn either use the data for sales, or sell the data. A setup that would drive privacy proponents to drink today – but isn’t out of the realm of reasonable to be happening today, let alone happening tomorrow. Well, the goal of the assassination is to kill the president of the company, John Parse (played by Sean Bean, from Lord of the Rings and whom my daughter always referred to as Barphenew (spelling?) instead of Boromir, and still does to this day), as well as his daughter in a hostile takeover that will give a major stake of the corporation to Reid Parse, the owner’s son, as well as to the company doing the hit.
The key here for Tasya is that she will be in the host for a couple days in order to establish Colin’s unraveling heading into the murder suicide. But every moment Tasya is in a neural link is probably bad for everyone as established by the previous hit and how glitchy that went. Well, as soon as Tasya is jacked in, Tate’s girlfriend, Ava, notices something is up right away. But Tasya is able to convince Ava that everything is alright. He heads into his job where we learn that he works on the floor of Zoothrough personally looking through webcams in order to determine user’s shades and curtain types. And even early on, Tasya is having issues controlling reality. Artifacting is occurring and random anomalies continue to appear in her field of vision that aren’t really there.
Later, Ava and Collin head to a company party at her father’s house where he unveils his latest product vision. And while there, Ava introduces Collin to her father, who proceeds to belittle and humiliate him. (My favorite quote from the party is from Ava, “My father is a human shaped protozoa that feeds off of human misery.”) Which is fairly convenient for Tasya really. Collin gets a bit drunk, then picks a fight with Mr. Parse, and then has more issues with maintaining control. But ultimately, Tasya heads back to the house, where Ava and John are talking about how horrible Collin was at the party. Tasya then takes a fire poker and physically dismantles Mr. Parse’s face. And then he chases Ava down and kills her by shooting her. But when Tasya attempts to commit suicide she is unable. Worse, either Collin or Tasya, I’m unclear on this point takes a glass shard and damages the implant in his head. What we do know right now is that there is a massive fight raging in Collin’s head for control.
Collin, who is in search of a place to hole up, heads to one of Ava’s friend’s houses who has obviously been having an affair with him. He asks if he can crash at her house for a couple days while she is traveling, and she ascents. And in the glitching and chaos of his visit to her place, it isn’t 100% clear, but he shoots her, and kills her. Soon after, Eddie, a Zoothrough employee and friend of Collin’s shows up at the house. But it would appear that he is part of the Zoothrough coup that is happening. He pops Collin with a sedative which allows him to reestablish the neural link and fix the damage that was done. (And during this rewiring, we see glitching and visions of Tasya walking up to a convalescing Mr. Parse who has lost an eye as a result of the attack. (Look, there is literally no way that anyone survived that poker assault, I’m sorry, but this has just got to be a dream. And yes, I also know that the news also mentions that he was in critical condition as a result of the attack, and was not dead. But no. He was destroyed in that attack. Anyway, I digress.)
But after Tasya comes back to, she shoots and kills Eddie. And then she heads to visit her son. Or, worse, Collin heads to visit Tasya’s son and her husband. Now, the ending is going to require you to do your breathing exercises. You know, those THiNC. Specified, WE CAN DO THIS mental coping mechanisms we do to handle really crazy endings? Yeah, let’s do those.
The Ending of Possessor Uncut Explained
Here’s where things get tricky. Either Tasya, or Collin just went to Tasya’s husband’s home. Who? Tasya could have wanted to go visit the home, just to see that all is well. She’s done that before. But as Tasya. Seems like a very dangerous proposition to go as Collin. So, I’m partial to the idea that it was Collin… angry Collin, who was ready for some real up in here revenge. Okay? So let’s run with that theory. Collin heads to Tasya’s home, and bum-rushes the door when Michael checks to see who it is. Then Collin says, “I need to know what your wife has done to me.” (Look at that, our theory is looking up!) “Do you think of her as a predator?” (OK woah, this is getting really interesting really quickly here.) “One day, she is cleaning the kitty litter when she gets a worm in her. And then, the next day she gets an idea in her head. And it’s really hard to understand when that idea is hers or the worms.” (WAHT?!) “Michael, are you married to her, or married to the worm?” (Preach brother, preach it!)
Eventually Collin convinces Tasya to come out, and talk to him. Michael is still under gunpoint, but the two of them are talking inside Collin’s head. Would have been awesome to see the conversation from Michael’s perspective. hahah. “You’ve been in control not me – I swear I’ll kill him – Go ahead…” and then Michael gets a really, really bad idea in his head…to jump Collin mid-argument. But Collin, having lost the gun, grabs a meat cleaver, and let’s just say it doesn’t go well for Michael. Now, the question we have right here is this…who is in control now? Who has had the penchant for steak knives and cleavers? Collin? Or Tasya? Well, yeah, Tasya. So did Tasya just dismantle her husband? Or was it Collin? Hrmmm.
A minute later, a knife finds itself lodged in Collin’s neck. Wait, how? Ah, it was Ira… Tasya’s son. But that seemed just a wee-bit violent for a child, don’t you think? And fairly coincidental to boot. The thing that Tasya couldn’t do for herself, which was to kill himself (pardon the gender muddying there, couldn’t be helped). Hrmmm. What is going on here? And that is when we realize that it was Girder, Tasya’s handler, who stabbed Collin in the neck, not Ira. She possessed Ira in order to be ready for Tasya’s eventual arrival in order to pull her out. But when Ira stabbed Collin in the neck, SOMEONE, shot Ira repeatedly. Well, knives and blood were Tasya’s nom de guerre, and Collin’s seemed to be the pistol, so we can reasonably assume that this was Collin getting his revenge for the destruction Tasya wrought in his life. His girlfriend, his future father-in-law, etc.
And as the movie ends, we watch as a Girder and Tasya are reunited. Phew that was a close one. But we have to assume that Tasya is fatally flawed mentally now. We knew that Tasya was damaged mentally by the dismantling of the implant. We also know that it hasn’t hit her that her husband and her son are dead. Or do we know this? It could very well be that Tasya lost her mind a number of host jumps ago. Think about it, in the two jumps we got to witness, we know that Tasya had become a knife-wielding, blood thirsty maniac. The brutality of the murders that she invokes is the stuff of nightmares. And these bloody tirades were pointed generally at men. Why is that? Is she enacting vengeance for some wrong in her past? Or maybe she just snapped and the ire just generally is directed towards men. But she’s an equal opportunity murderer. Sure, she hacks up men, but she also kills a number of women as well, even if less violently.
But What Is Possessor About?
The key detail of the ending is as Tasya is being interviewed by Girder. She stops on the butterfly, and says, I found, killed, and mounted this butterfly as a child. But what she doesn’t say, that she said during previous interviews was – “And I still feel badly about it to this day.” But during the final interview she doesn’t say this. Why is that important? That this entire mission, assigned by Girder, for Tasya, was to solely do one thing. This mission was to make Tasya the perfect number one host jumper in the organization. Wait, why wasn’t she already the best? The reason was because she had emotional ties back to family which rooted her in a moral understanding of her actions. But with Ira and Michael gone now, her weakness of being tied to back to her family as the last lingering emotional connection she had. With Ira and Michael gone, so to was her guilt at having mounted the butterfly. Yes?
Possessor owes an enormous debt to the book, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Why? Because that book deals with the idea of individuals with split personalities. One that lives an upstanding life, filled with moral love and support for the community, and the other as a serial murderer intent on bloodletting that very same community. Tasya is Dr Jekyll. She cares about her family. She cares about others. But she is also Mr Hyde, and sews a reign of bloody terror throughout the city when she transforms. But ultimately the question is… who will win out? Will Tasya overcome her blood lust and reunite with Michael and her son? No. She ultimately chooses to murder her son and her husband, and become the perfect agent that Girder is hoping that she will be. So, we can assume that this will obviously not be her last job. Far from it. Instead, we can expect that with Dr Jekyll dead, Mr Hyde is unchecked and his reign of blood lust will last until a mission goes wrong and she dies.
This leads me to believe that the movie, Possessor Uncut is actually talking about corporations today, and their stop at nothing efforts for profits. The movie is literally all about taking over a massive booming internet corporation that is stealing data and profiting from their immoral practices. The most literal hostile takeover anyone could ever really imagine. Possessor is saying, this corporate blood lust will stop at nothing. It won’t even stop after real lives have been spent. Worse yet, there is nothing stopping them from turning the world upside down in their thirst for blood and cash. Is that what you were thinking that it was about? Or did I miss the mark on this one? (Cribsheet – no, I did not miss the mark on this one… I nailed it! hahah.)
Want other movies like Possessor Uncut? Here are my big three:
Edited by: CY