Possession (1981)

Article 5157 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 5-15-2016
Directed by Andrzej Zulawski
Featuring Isabelle Adjani, Sam Neill, Margit Carstensen
Country: France / West Germany
What it is: Intense Art-house horror

After returning home from a mysterious business trip, a husband discovers that his marriage has crumbled and his wife is leaving him. The discovery unhinges him and he begins taking desperate actions to win her back. But the wife is fairly unhinged herself, and she’s harboring a secret that is truly disturbing…

According to IMDB, it is rumored that director/writer Andrzej Zulawski was going through a divorce at the time he wrote this. If so, it must have been one unpleasant experience to yield this movie. Given the fact that it’s something of an art film, you might find yourself suspecting the horror classification will turn out to be something of a false lead; certainly, the first forty-five minutes will lead you to be believe this is mainly an intense and sometimes shrill divorce drama. It’s only when you find out what’s inside the wife’s new apartment that the film takes its turn into horror, and not just a mild turn, either; there are reasons this one ended up on the UK’s “Video Nasties” list. Nevertheless, it is an art film; parts of it don’t really make rational sense, and it comes as very much a personal expression from a man who is in a very bad place. It’s loud, hysterical, frantic, bloody, and hard to sit through (you will get tired of hearing people constantly scream at each other), but it does feel that it was meant to be cathartic. Isabelle Adjani apparently said it took her several years to recover from this role, and I believe it; many of her scenes look utterly exhausting. I’m not sure if I quite believe it is a classic, but it does appear to be one of those movies that needs to seriously be reckoned with.


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