Saturday, 5 March 2016

WHAT POSSESSED THEM?









POSSESSION, d. Andrezj Zulawski (1981)

I’ll be honest with you, I’m not entirely sure what Possession is about. I mean, I’ve watched it, and I could tell you what happens, and how I feel about it, but I have no clear and concise view on what it means. A film of crushing intensity soaked in blood and gore and goo, it starts with a marital breakdown, progresses to emotional and physical violence and then culminates in monsters, bestiality, madness and death.

The cast are uniformly excellent, and are encouraged to take their characterisations to the very edge: Isabella Adjani is so fragile that you fear for her health all the time, even when she’s doing terrible things. Sam Neill, resembling Peter Gabriel, is so odd and intense that he seems likely to catch fire. Mind you, he had just played The Antichrist in Omen III: The Final Conflict.     

Director Andrezj Zulawski died in February, so I’ve re-watched a few of his films and been amazed at their consistently nihilistic, hysterical tone. Not surprisingly, his work in his native Poland was considered controversial enough to be banned on a number of occasions by the communist authorities, so Possession was made in West Germany, albeit in the shadow of the Berlin Wall. It’s a frenzied, dread filled piece of work, a true horror film. It took me three attempts to watch it, not because it was bad, but because it was overwhelming and I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to deal with it.  

Watch it, please, but make sure you’re in a safe place and feeling good about yourself. It’s strong stuff, take with caution.   

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