Isabelle Adjani and Sam Neill play a very unhappy, separated couple that just can’t seem to get along. Adjani’s infidelities don’t help much either. But soon, even her new lover can’t find her, as she disappears without giving a shit or telling anyone where she’s going. Adjani’s been living a double life, and it soon turns to murder. Yes, this is the basic plot of Possession, written and directed by Polish director Andrzej Zulawski. But even with such a simple-sounding plot, the movie defies all sorts of conventions. Is it an intense drama about marital problems? Is it a surreal masterpiece? Or is it a horror film? It’s truly a mix of all three, and then some.
The main drive of the movie is the performance by Isabelle Adjani, who’s performance caused a lot of controversy when the film came out. She’s intense and almost psychotic, but always with a hint of sadness. Such instances as when she’s cutting herself in the kitchen or arguing repeatedly with Sam Neill make you want to grab her and shake her, especially since Sam’s acting is making things even loonier. The most memorable sequence, however, is the famous ‘birth’ sequence, when Adjani starts having what looks like an epileptic seizure, akin to being in a one-woman moshpit, in the middle of the train station, all ending in the floor with many bodily fluids coming out of her body. It’s rather gross and hard to watch but very compelling at the same time. The rest of the performances are harder to stomach, but I blame this more on the surreal nature of the film. Sam Neill and Heinz Bennett are very good actors, but their performances are so over the top, particularly Bennett’s drugged moments, that make you wonder whether it’s part of the weird nature of the film or bad direction.
As a horror film, this is almost like a weird supernatural slasher, with Adjani bringing in men into her apartment to become victims of Adjani’s new ‘lovechild’. And what a lovechild it is, looking like a tentacled squid creature, oozing and pussing with it’s tiny eyes. It was created by Carlo Rombaldi, who made mechanical special effects for Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, ET (the real one not the porno one) and Alien, and ranks up there with these more popular creations. I dare you not to flinch when watching Adjani having sex with her monstruous creation. The ending is one of the most confusing I’ve ever seen, violent and weird, just like the rest of this film. It’s the kind of movie that takes more than one watching to truly appreciate, but when you get it, you’ll see it’s an excellent and different film that should be seen to be believed.