Horror Movie Weirdness: Possession (1981)

This is probably one of the strangest movies that I have ever reviewed.  While I know I said the exact same thing about “The Lobster”, that movie’s weirdness was at least designed to be weird.  This…I just do not know.

At times a domestic drama about the dissolution of a marriage, as well as a movie about demons, Possession is quite possibly one of the strangest and yet compelling horror movies I have ever witnessed.  Directed by Andrzej Żuławski, Possession is about a man and wife portrayed by Isabelle Adjani and Sam Neill.  Neill, who is a spy of some sort, comes home after a mission to find his wife completely changed.  Some of this behavior can be explained by her having an affair, but some of it also may be due to the fact that she is having sex with a tentacled demon in an abandoned West Berlin apartment (and yes, that actually happens in the movie).  Additionally, there is also a subplot involving Adjani’s lover who is obsessed with spirits and a whole spy plot that goes nowhere.

The positives of this movie include the performances of Adjani and Neill, as well as the cinematography by Bruno Nuytten.  Adjani is amazing as the possessed woman.  She basically has to play three characters in that she is not only playing a wife, but also a killer, and a teacher who functions as her doppelganger.  Neill is also good as the husband, he knows how to play jealous dickheads and its fun to see him in this kind of role.  I always have a love of movies that take place in divided Berlin and Nuytten knows how to use the drab setting to heighten the tension and make things claustrophobic, which is always good for a horror movie.

A major issue of the movie is the convoluted plot.  This movie really does not what it wants to be: a horror movie, a domestic drama, or even a spy movie.  This creates an uneven tone that can lead to moments of tension-breaking, such as any scene with Adjani’s lover.  You get the idea that he is gay and that it it is supposed to be played for laughs, but at the same time he is supposed to be some moral philosopher that provides insight to Sam Neill.  This goes double true for the ending, which I cannot even explain to anyone because it made absolutely no sense.

Overall, Possession is definitely worth a watch for a horror movie that is somewhat interesting, if very convoluted.  I definitely would even watch this a second time and update my review to see how I feel next year.

Final review: 2 out of 4 stars.


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