Possession (1981) - Drama, Horror

Hohum Score



A woman starts exhibiting increasingly disturbing behavior after asking her husband for a divorce. Suspicions of infidelity soon give way to something much more sinister.

IMDB: 7.4
Director: Andrzej Zulawski
Stars: Isabelle Adjani, Sam Neill
Length: 124 Minutes
PG Rating: R
Reviews: 42 out of 159 found boring (26.41%)

One-line Reviews (125)

This stands -- beside the execrable "Night Train to Venice" -- as the worst movie of all time, Sam Neill or no Sam Neill.

The impressive performance of Isabelle Adjani is something spectacular, stunning, and outstanding.

It's a horrendous waste of time, film, and money.

pretentious decadent excess .

Sam Neil plays a man whose wife, the stunning Isabella Adjani, becomes estranged from him and his son.

Plus as everyone has mentioned some parts of the story can be confusing and require several viewings before you can get them.

There is no message or point to convey, no at least semi-reasonable conclusion to wrap things up, just a bunch of people being weird for the sake of it (for the sake of oh-so artistic "surrealism" (that word alone gets some people to drool and swoon)).

The ending throws in some superbly-shot action scenes which come as a nice pay-off for the slow build-up.

This could possibly be the worst movie I have ever seen.

Zulawski's use of the camera is fascinating, as by keeping everything mobile he manages to aptly convey the characters' fractured mentality, and continue to build the mystery surrounding the central plot.

The music by Andrzej Korzynski adds a lot and the cinematography by Bruno Nuytten is stunning.

Despite the surreal and disjointed storyline, it is all held together by his sensibilities.

"Possession" is a remarkably intense, offbeat, and surreal drama, a truly personal project for Polish writer / director Andrzej Zulawski.

At 123 minutes the film is way too long given the material.

The film is very strange and absorbing.

Isabelle Adjani gives a memorable and really intense performance, all though sometimes it is a bit much.

A strange but satisfying film that somehow manages to be both an intense arthouse film, a psychological thriller, and a full blown horror film all in equal doses.

Slow, boring, waste of time.

"Naked Lunch" (the monster sex) and "Lost Highway" (the total lack of story within the "story", and Neill talking to himself on the phone) also come to mind, though it's difficult to say who borrowed from whom in the case of the former.

The standout scene is Adjani wigging out in the empty subway like she's auditioning for a Cradle of Filth video.

The last act is particularly compelling, mainly because of how out-there it really gets, and the ending follows in line.

I have just watched it and have been utterly bored throughout.

Most of my enjoyment was derived from the unique genre-mashing, very compelling and somewhat experimental camerawork, and the absolutely unhinged performances.

More of that may not have made the film any more coherent, but, it would certainly have made it more enjoyable.

An intense, powerful, enigmatic and rewarding film .

I am not going to go on a critiqued's rant, but I advise anyone who is looking for a challenging, non-pretentious art house film, to definitely check this out.

) I will admit that the movie has a few pluses - the Berlin backdrop (while the wall was still up) is fresh and eye- catching, the creature (made by special effects artist Carlo Rambaldi) is intriguing to look at, and writer/director Andrzej Zulawski puts a great deal of energy in every scene so you'll never nod off.

Confusing piece of work.

Director Zulawski is all symbols and metaphor, and his narrative does become fractured and confused, but the central idea is fascinating and the execution is adroit.

What a waste of my time.

In the end, I was very bored and disappointed.

A Load Of Utter Boring RUBBISH.

The film's duplicitous nature makes it a difficult one to really pin down, but conversely is also one of the most fascinating things about it; it's a domestic drama, and a horror film, and a creature feature, and perhaps even a love story.

Either way this film stands out from most horror films and manages to leave me with a memorable and intense experience.

Don't waste your time with this garbage.

Adjani's character was compelling enough to keep me watching until the end of the movie.

So far as I can make out, the fundamentals of the story are pretty banal.

well, an octopus like creature (yes, thats right) which she hides away in an empty apartment on the other side of town.

Unsettling, maddening, irrational, absorbing, better than David Lynch, The Shining, Rosemary's Baby.

Compelling and Complex .

pretentious it certainly is, in spades (not, of course, that pretensions are always a bad thing).

They match the style of the movie, as this is an unremittingly intense film from start to finish.

Stunning, captivating, eerie and plain beautiful!

more intense!

The ending of the film was very confusing.

This aspect alone makes the film fascinating.

I find it a hard movie to watch, but compelling anyways and worth the experience.

You'll probably think it's either indecipherable pretentious nonsense or a very deep statement.

Besides its stylistic and cinematographic greatness, "Possession" has many other fascinating aspects.

For a film like possession, excess is not something that can be kept back, but what is so fascinating is that it's so intense at times, in the husband/wife interactions, the emotional violence springing out into physical abuse (at one point a slap is then encouraged into more, an uncomfortable scene done just right), that it's fascinating because it's going into such high volume.

At the end you will very bored and disappointed because it should had been shorter and better.

The DP and Director work together to create an intense and terrific type of genre film making.

I must say that I found the story to be incredibly boring because not for a single frame did I care about either character.

and also totally unpredictable!!

The contrast of black hair, fair skin and blue eyes is breathtaking.

On the one hand, "Possession" is a wonderfully bizarre film which really isn't like anything else, and furthermore an exceptionally shot exercise in fascinating cinematic style.

Don't waste your time in watching this, except you want to see Isabelle Adjani with some amazing green eyes.

It's horrific and unpredictable, and best of all; it has something intelligent to say.

Utterly bizarre nonsense, but entertaining because totally unpredictable, with bombastic over-the-top performances by the leading pair.

You would not think this was meant to be a "horror" movie; more like a tedious, slow, borefest.

Static scenes in repetitive milieux are subjected to awesomely complex movements, as the camera encircles, tracks, reveals, blocks, opens up space, creating a narrative that never stands still, offering us different, usually startling viewpoints within the one scene.

It is also the most enjoyable and refreshing horror film I have seen in a long time.

Please don't waste your time in watching this, as director awfully presented real life events in an UN-realistic manner.

There's so much here, in a highly entertaining work I might add, that makes it worthy of subsequent viewing and discussion.

The final scene is both heartbreaking and mind boggling.

Sexy, bizarre and twisted - a compelling film experience.

Not dull, but abrasive and confusing .

Stunning cinematography.

The completely insane performances by both Neil, and especially Adjani, punctuate the nightmarishness of the bizarre experiences, and the film as a whole has a sort of Cronenberg-esq controlled grotesquerie that is both compelling and confusing.

Intense and unrelenting art-house/exploitation movie .

Plus, there's a seemingly random and utterly bonkers scene which sees Anna gyrating around an empty subway in a macabre dance until she falls to the ground and has a graphically intense miscarriage - a scene that feels much longer than it actually is.

Projection of one's own imaginary world into the empty vessel (the (European) movie) is the main tool of any self-respecting fan of surreal (European) cinema.

However "pretentious" would probably be the first word that would come to my mind to describe it...

Isabelle Adjani ("Nosferatu the Vampyre") begins to laugh madly in an empty subway tunnel after standing under a statue of the crucified Christ, splattering a bag of milk and eggs against a wall, writhing around in a dance of insanity, while meeting the sexual needs of a blood-caked, tentacled creature.

Maybe, but it sure is entertaining and different and that is what is needed in this genre right now....

Both the settings in Berlin and the cinematography are fascinating.

It got labeled as a "Video Nasty" shortly after its release in Britain, due to some very explicit and sick gore (notably the aforementioned miscarriage sequence), but don't expect another "Cannibal Holocaust" or "Maniac", as this is pretentious gore.

Difficult to follow and impossible to understand at first, Zulawski's frustrating work leaves us scratching our heads for the entirety of its running time.

Isabelle Adjani creates one of the most intense roles of her career in this film.

Bland, grey Europe .

What i received was in fact a bile infested self-indulgent crap bonanza of the highest order.

Confusing bit of nonsense .

That vision is of the mind boggling deterioration of a marital relationship, with themes of obsession and psycho sexual problems.

Even scenes of flamboyant repulsiveness, the puling monster mounting Isabella Adjani, Mark's lavatorial dispatch of Heinrich, have a clarity of composition that is simply breathtaking.

viewed from that perspective the film will just seem confusing and pointless.

The lover Heinrich was, wow, talk about a maddeningly pretentious and cartoonish guy whom you want to punch in the face.

Long winded, boring, this are just a few words I use to describe this film.

It could have been a truly interesting metaphor for marriage and its destruction, but the script just absolutely kills its momentum in the second hour and what is supposed to be an intriguing allegory just seems like a waste of time.

It's the type of movie that's just weird enough to be labeled as 'brilliant' when in actuality, it's mostly just pretentious.

He sees his wife's actions as bewildering and confusing; as evil and archaic.

The story is confusing, nothing is explained, like how did this all start?

The direction comprises of shots that give the actors space to do their thing, and what intense performances are unleashed!

There is no denying, however, that it is an ineluctably compelling viewing experience.

He seems to take his melodramatics terribly seriously [ he was in attendance during the screening I saw, and got up and walked out when there were audience titters at some of the sillier scenes; also, as a side note, the Quay Brothers were a few seats away from me, which tells you something about POSSESSION's influence and its more serious audience] .

the movie gives us a whole bunch of scenes that disgust us scare us but at the same time are fascinating.

Some parts of the film are way too slow while other parts move at a brisk pace.

The one feeling which appears to be universal in conjunction with Possession is that of helpless confusion.

Nobody is saying "go Hollywood", but a middle ground between self-indulgent boring meaningless drivel a-la Godard and totally commercial garbage a-la J.

I do admit the film is very badly edited with lots of scenes beginning but not actually leading anywhere and almost 90% of the happenings in it are completely unexplained,like a particularly confusing scene where Neil wakes up with a beard that he didn't have previously and when he asks someone how long he was asleep for she replies "3 weeks"and the fact that it is never explained why/when/how Adjani was even possessed in the first place,nor is it seen.

…And about 10.000 other why-this & why-that situations, but you get the idea… "Possession" often succeeds in being confusing and tedious at the same time (which really isn't a good combination) and the whole thing is very ugly to look at.

Focused on a screenplay, which in the foreground looks something very mundane, the film develops with a psychological apprehension, seen the depression of the character Mark and his lack of moral sense that is created when he discovers that he is being betrayed, soon in the first minutes of film, and on the other hand we have Anna, who is completely out of her mind, and with the course of the film is only getting worse, with psychotic deaf, bipolar syndromes, etc. The family drama at first is what causes the horror in the film, until we discover the monster to which Anna relates, and when the supernatural element comes by surprise in the film, in the best Stephen King style, you start to question and make reflections about everything that will already come here in the film.

The inclusion of Andrzej Zulawski's Possession on the official video nasties list during the 80s (thanks to a couple of scenes involving goop, blood, mucous, and Isabelle Adjani) has forever guaranteed that it will be of interest to avid horror fans; a shame, because if any of the 72 titles deemed unsuitable for public viewing by the BBFC actually deserved to be wiped from our collective memory, its this piece of highly pretentious, extremely irritating, and very tiresome art-house dreck.

With that said, I think most art house fans are going to be disgusted by the gore and violence and I think those wanting the gore and violence are going to be bored by the so-called "story" here.

Truly unwatchable .

But then Zulawski has the camera track behind the man as he chases the woman down the stairs of their apartment and out in the street, pulling at each other and yelling in the middle of an empty intersection, then a truck carrying beatup cars comes rolling by, cars falling crashing down from it.

The extraordinarily intense physicality of the two leads is so effectively gruelling that it is impossible not to feel vicarious pain at points such as when they respectively cut themselves with an electric carving knife.

Zulawski for his part controls things to perfection, his camera is always moving making even mundane scenes seem really interesting.

Not that this would distract from the essence of the movie, the real message, the main story, for there is no message and no essence at all, and the story becomes increasingly disjointed and comical as the movie ends its amazingly bizarre conclusion.

"P" starts of as a heavy-handed relationship family drama then takes a totally unexpected horror turn.

Words to describe this "movie" would include melodramatic, overacted, pretentious, and for a large part of the overlong two hour running time so deathly boring.

The director wrote this while going through a divorce, and I hope he at least got some catharsis from it, because for the rest, it's a mild waste of time, even if the 21 Grams crowd don't know it.

So intense and exhausting was this film to her, that she swore that she would never take on another like it (although Jean Becker's 1983's superior ONE DEADLY SUMMER has some parallels).

The hurt; the rage; the jealousy; the monstrosity; the confusion; the violence of adultery in a graphic and painful movie.

So yeah, there's some intense performances, monster sex, and a story that feels more like Franz Kafka, bare desperate human emotions displayed through inhuman events and surreal happenings, more than Clive Barker(who was very influenced by this film).

I call BS, this is simply just a waste 2 hours of your life, where a few simple subjects are given an extremely surreal spin to make them feel artsy and let pretensious people claim it is simply because you are not smart enough to understand it, that you can't see how brilliant it is.

Conversations are replaced with intense dramatic exchanges involving characters forever at the end of their tether, frenzied even from the outset.

Pathetic, Please don't waste you time on this .

Clocking in over two-hours made me feel quite bored because I didn't care for anything I was looking at and there were several times where I was just downright bored with everything going on and I must say that I just didn't connect with anything happening.

Zulawski tells the story among the gloomy cityscapes of Cold War Berlin, and the photography in the film is stunning in all its greyness.

Great, Disturbing, intense...

With committed and brave performances from all of the cast, and particularly Adjani, this film begins at a high and intense pitch and gets stranger and stronger from thereon.

Garbage, Gibberish and Artsy-Fartsy.

With an oblique ending that feels fascinating rather than impenetrable, Possession is a slice of European mischief with a gooey, splashy centre.

It starts off slow and rushes furiously through the progressivly worse second and third acts, When the end credits roll, you're left with the rug pulled from under you.

Hell, he titled it so where's the confusion?