With strong reviews out of Sundance, Brandon Cronenberg's new sci-fi thriller POSSESSOR will be released this year by NEON. Starring Andrea Riseborough and Christopher Abbott, the film plays with the theme of control, both of the self and of others, and how we justify our actions.
When we interviewed Cronenberg in 2019, he told us about finding inspiration in the experiments of Spanish neuroscientist José Delgado who invented a brain implant device called a stimoceiver to try to control patient behavior. "He could control hand movements to turn a knob, control the iris elevation, and that kind of thing," Cronenberg said. "There’s this great line where he writes that he got the patient to make a fist and said, 'try to open your hand.' They couldn’t do it and said, 'well doctor, it seems your electricity is stronger than my will.'" In addition, Cronenberg continued, "he talks about making patients fall in love with doctors by turning up the electricity; they would start by saying, 'I really don’t like this doctor' and by the end they’d be proposing marriage. He could control limbs—they would do a series of movements and then think that they chose those movements. They would get off a chair, walk around in a circle, and sit down, and then Delgado would say, why did you do that? They would say, oh, I heard a noise. And then he’d press the button and they’d go through the same motions again and he’d say, why did you do that? And they’d say, I was looking for my shoes—all sort of terrifying, but philosophically really interesting stuff."
In addition to Riseborough and Abbott, POSSESSOR stars Jennifer Jason Leigh, Sean Bean, and Tuppence Middleton. Watch the new trailer below.