Brandon Cronenberg's film costars Andrea Riseborough, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Sean Bean.

By Clark Collis
October 08, 2020 at 04:09 PM EDT
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In writer-director Brandon Cronenberg's just-released sci-fi-horror-thriller Possessor, Andrea Riseborough plays an assassin with an unusual means of killing her victims.

"Possessor is essentially about a woman who works for a corporation," says Cronenberg, "and in her job she is an assassin, but she is an assassin who takes over other people’s bodies through this science fiction technology. [She] lives their lives and forces them to kill other people to hide her crimes."

Christopher Abbott portrays the latest person to act as host for Riseborough's assassin, one who proves harder to control than previous patsies, while Jennifer Jason Leigh plays the boss of Riseborough's character, who helps guide the killer through her murderous assignments.

Cronenberg reveals that he got the idea for the film on the publicity tour for his previous movie Antiviral.

"When you travel with a film for the first time it’s a very surreal experience," he says. "You are, in a sense, building this public persona, either consciously or unconsciously. You end up performing another version of yourself, this kind of media-self that then goes off and has its own weird life online without you. So, between that and a few other things, I was finding it hard to see myself in my own life. I was getting up in the morning and feeling like I was sitting up into someone else’s life."

Possessor is being released by Neon as Possessor Uncut. What's the story with that?

"Possessor Uncut is the unrated director’s cut," says the Canadian filmmaker, who is the son of director David Cronenberg. "So, that’s the full film that premiered at Sundance. But there is a cut version of the film which exists that was cut to get an R-rating in the U.S. and that version will probably be released there in some situations, some platforms that won’t released an R-rated version."

Antiviral depicted a world in which fans of celebrities bought the blood of their idols so they could share the same disease. Has that given the filmmaker a unique perspective of the last half-year, when so many real-life famous people have contracted, and even died from, coronavirus?

"Well, it certainly has been said that Antiviral would be the film to release right now," he says. "It would be interesting to make a virus movie now. I don’t know if anybody wants to watch that — but maybe."

Possessor is now available to watch in select drive-ins and theaters. If you go to see the film indoors, please remember to wear a mask. Exclusively watch a clip from Possessor above.

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