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Review Possession (1981): Gigantic waste of time!

genre: horror, fantasy, drama

There were two reasons I was eager to watch this film. The fact that this is supposed to be Lovecraftian horror and that it had tentacle sex. Look deep down, I am a simple man. If tentacle sex is featured, I am definitely going to check it out. In this case, though, it took me about ten seconds to realize that the descending into madness would be inflicted on me and not the main characters.

First, the dialogue is bizarre. Second, the way people interact with each other is bizarre. The way people behave is bizarre. Especially between Anna (Isabelle Adjani) and Mark (Sam Neill). I read that writer / director Andrzej Zulawski had written this story while he was in the middle of a painful divorce. If you have seen the film, then painful is an understatement. The husband and wife are constantly screaming at each other. And if what they said made sense, then I could have gone along with it. But trust me when I say that every word uttered is going to question your own sanity. The supporting cast also can't be bothered to make sense. When attacked, they just stand there and take it without even attempting to fight back. When people do fight like in the case between Mark and a low budget and extremely gay version of Anthony Hopkins it's almost as if they are dancing. I get that almost everything in the film is symbolic and expressionistic. And to a certain degree I can understand where the director is coming from. Still, I lost interest pretty quickly and all I wanted was this film to end. 

One could argue that Possession has Lovecraftian elements in it. The body horror and the madness is not instilled by some otherworldly creature, but it's all about emotions, in particular that of the director who clearly wants you to be exposed to his pain. Perhaps this helps people who went through a divorce similar to him, to me, it didn't do much. Actually, after a while, I concluded that the director was pathetic. Yes, it's a bad thing that you have to part with the partner who you once loved and now seemingly has turned into a monster. And yes, I am willing to believe that some people are cruel and evil and could in large part be blamed for a marriage failing. Still, there are two people in a marriage, and both people can have done or acted in ways that could have destroyed the love between them. There is also the matter of the child. Both husband and wife are absolved with themselves, they barely pay attention to their son. He is the real victim in this as he endures the shenanigans of the unhinged parents, who in my opinion both should have been locked up in jail for major negligence.

Just because a film is ultra weird and bizarre doesn't automatically make the film creepy or scary. I would argue that none of the supposedly shocking imagery is far from scary purely because of how the people act. In order for me to be scared for them, I have to have some sympathy for them. The little, I had gone out the door after I experienced the first conversation in the film. I will add this to my list of Lovecraftian horror, but only to warn people not to make the same mistake I made and buy into this art house crap. I think the Elder gods were trying to prevent me from being exposed to this film, since it took me forever to watch this film. For some unknown reason I kept delaying and delaying and forced myself to have a go at this film, naturally in good company, who now also forever curses me.

In the end, there are a few things you need to do in a film. One of the most important is to tell a good story. And Possession certainly had the potential to do so, instead it wallops in self-pity and lunacy. The story is awful. I am sure a lot of people will disagree with me, and very likely will say I don't understand the film. Even in a world that is weird and bizarre, there has to be some kind of logic. The minute you defy this and anything can go, you will lose your audience. Possession doesn't even attempt to tell a coherent narrative. You never know how much time has passed and why for example Isabelle Adjani has a double role. I thought it was to emphasize the contrast between her and Anna. Strangely enough, the way Adjani portrayed Anna did make me dislike her and not find her attractive. Helen, on the other hand, seems to be the woman Mark had fallen in love in the first place. She is very attractive. Kudos for Adjani to be able to play both of these roles. That is where my praise ends. I can't honestly for the life of me begin to understand why this film was banned and how it is being regarded as a masterpiece. The film is tame and boring. Let me repeat this, the film consisting of a creature with tentacles who you can see having sex with Anna is tame and boring. I rest my case.

Of course, this title received a cult status. But I think for all the wrong reasons. This certainly won't be a film that will give you a good viewing experience. Actually, the exact opposite. It made me feel like punching the director. Fortunately, for him, he died. So yes, do avoid this, it's a gigantic waste of your time!

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