Woman in Revolt
A Podcast About Women in Film & TV
August 31, 2022

E9 Video Nasty: 'Possession'

“Does our subject still wear pink socks?”

In Andrzej Żuławski’s "Possession" (1981), Anna (Isabelle Adjani) and Marc (Sam Neill) are a married couple in turmoil. When Marc, some kind of international spy (it’s never specified) comes home to West Berlin after a mission in East Berlin, he and Anna are on thin ice. Marc suspects she’s having an affair and when he finds confirmation of this news, has a brief depressive spiral. Their son, Bob (Michael Hogben), seems to be the only thing keeping both of them in contact with each other, although he is severely neglected by both throughout the film. In Anna’s absence, Marc clings to other women like Helen, Bob’s teacher (also played by Adjani), who is Anna’s double but with lighter hair, eyes, and a more easy-going attitude; and Margie, Anna’s best friend who pops in as a surrogate caregiver when Marc needs her. In order to figure out WTF is going on with Anna, Marc decides to hire a detective to look into her whereabouts/affairs. What he finds is more than Marc could have ever predicted. Not only is Anna killing men, she’s feeding parts of them to a monster that she is also fucking. The monster is a project and when “ready,” will become Marc’s double … the version of him that Anna finds most palatable. The film’s structure has been compared to that of a spiral staircase (a common visual in many Żuławski films, including this one) … at each new level, it builds on what is already there, transcending to something the same but different.

Here are some things we mentioned during the episode and/or that we think you should check out:

Other cerebral horror movies about fucked up relationships where people try to possess each other:

  • Lars von Trier’s “Antichrist” (2009)
  • David Cronenberg’s “The Brood” (1979)
  • Nicolas Roeg’s “Don’t Look Now” (1973)
  • Claire Denis’ “Trouble Every Day” (2001)
  • Roman Polanski’s “Bitter Moon” (1992)
  • Ingmar Bergman’s “Through a Glass Darkly” (1961)

Other cerebral horror movies about women losing their shit:

  • Roman Polanski’s “Repulsion” (1965) and “Rosemary’s Baby” (1968)
  • David Fincher’s “Gone Girl” (2014)
  • Julia Ducournau’s "Raw" (2017) and “Titane” (2021)
  • David Lynch’s "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me" (1992), “Mulholland Drive” (2001), and “Inland Empire” (2008)
  • Ingmar Bergman's "Persona" (1966)