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France, West Germany · 1981
Rated R · 2h 3m
Director Andrzej Żuławski
Starring Isabelle Adjani, Sam Neill, Margit Carstensen, Heinz Bennent
Genre Horror

When Mark returns to his home in West Berlin after an espionage mission, he finds his wife Helen insistent on divorce. As he launches an investigation into his wife's increasingly alarming behavior, Mark uncovers a truth much more sinister than his wildest suspicions.

Stream Possession

What are people saying?

Cait Mohr Profile picture for Cait Mohr

I have never in my life seen a human being move like Isabelle Adjani does in this movie (and that is a HIGH compliment)! I was totally engrossed by the ridiculous physicality of the actors throughout this entire film. Possession feels like a succession of bodies straining to move and speak with a modicum of emotional reserve- from the anguished post-divorce Mark’s pronounced yet robotic tossing and turning to Anna’s hysterical phantom linen-folding (not to mention the iconic subway scene)- the performances in this film are entirely alienating in their excessive emotionality and misplaced movements. Even the dialogue, seemingly delivered in a series of cursing screams and bizarrely-placed non-sequiturs, cements this film in a sort of tense, inhuman halfway point between bourgeois melodrama and body horror, or an otherwise delightfully perverse offspring of the two (not unlike Anna’s own monstrous creation).

What are critics saying?


TV Guide Magazine by

An enormous number of symbols--sexual, religious, and political--collide randomly in this pretentious, incoherent horror story.


USA Today by Mike Clark

The result may prove to be too much for even cult horror nuts. This complete 121-minute "director's cut" is tough to follow, so you can see why home viewers were mystified by the early '80s Vestron tape that cut nearly 40 minutes out of the movie and scrambled the order of scenes. [2 June 2000, p.10E]


Time Out by Tom Huddleston

There are plenty of movies which seem to have been made by madmen. Possession may be the only film in existence which is itself mad: unpredictable, horrific, its moments of terrifying lucidity only serving to highlight the staggering derangement at its core. Extreme but essential viewing.


Boston Globe by Wesley Morris

The genius of Zulawski is that he's dispensed with all the buildup and explanation and logic. How many horror-movie explanations make any sense? He just made an entire movie out of the scary parts, the way a different genius concocted only the muffin top and some pop music producers give you 10 minutes of beats and chorus. Possession climaxes for two whole hours. It's as if, with "The Shining," Stanley Kubrick found 25 variations on "here's Johnny" and "red rum." [17 Nov 2012, p.G5]

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