reibureibu’s review published on Letterboxd:
It's a rare horror movie that makes me truly invested in its characters, and often it's debatable whether these horror are even that. I feel the genre's definition is tricky because ultimately horror is an element that, like comedy or drama, is present in every movie.
So when we get something like The Conjuring or Saw, it's easy to point to their purposely-exaggerated trappings and declare it as horror. Jump-scares, gore, and monsters make this clear, but then we have horror that's harder to pin down. Dramatic-horror in the past half-decade has had a strong presence, with staples like It Follows, The Witch, and Get Out making waves. But then we have films that straddle this even further: what about Antichrist or Raw or even this year's The Lighthouse? I think these really show just how malleable horror is.
"I have seen half of God's face out here, the other half is you."
With that out of the way, Possession is one of the strangest, most perplexing "horror" film I've seen so far. It spends so much time building up its core character conflict that you forget it's even supposed to be anything else than a drama. But I really like this since we can invest in these people, and despite them being horrible ones at that we still care about their fate. In a lot of ways this reminds me of what I love about Hereditary, in that there's so much tension and friction in the beginning that we're constantly on edge for some "payoff" to settle us back down.
And the other thing I absolutely love is how rebellious it can be too. We get hints at what might be the "twist" or "reveal" but the movie plays off this well. At some point I tossed out some theories of what's happening, but then it fucks with you and says "this is a world that makes no sense." Characters scream, and shout, and fight, and flail in ways that go against any sensible decorum. Weird angles and pans convey a surrealist tone, and now I'm really not sure of anything at all – is that true horror?
"There is nothing to fear except God, whatever that means to you."
I'm still not entirely sure what it is I just watched, but I very much think this is one of my favorite films I've seen; I say "films" and not "horror" because that might lead to certain expectations, and this movie does not adhere to those in any capacity. Possession is like if three directors decided to work on a passion project: Ari Aster, David Lynch, and the third I can't name without spoiling the best parts.