It’s fair to say that most people would baulk at the idea of growing up like their parents; a sense of independence and natural rebellion usually mean that we do as much as possible to forge our own paths. Not for Brandon Cronenberg – he must’ve watched his dad’s films whilst growing up and thought ‘that’s exactly what I want to do’, because Possessor could have his dad’s name on it.
It’s only Brandon’s second feature film and in both he has tackled similar themes to his dad. This film is all about our abuse of technology and machinery, and has fully embraced the body horror shocks that Cronenberg senior was a master at.
Possessor works on a really visceral level – it’s almost unrelentingly gory, full of existential dread about what it means to be alive and how inhabiting someone else’s body could affect how you see yourself. It’s a really striking film and the sci-fi elements are there but only in a very real and tactile sense.
Reader beware… it can be pretty intense even for those of us who enjoy the darker stuff.
4. Uncut Gems
If you’ve seen the Safdie Brothers’ previous film Good Time, then you sort of understand what you’re getting yourself into with Uncut Gems. It’s an anxiety-fuelled thriller that sees a ridiculously good Adam Sandler performance as Howard, a jeweller and gambling addict.
It almost feels unfortunate that Joaquin Phoenix gave such a strong performance in Joker, as it should have probably been Sandler’s year to take the Oscar.
The Safdies relentlessly push the film forwards at high speed even when the characters are floundering or getting nowhere, and it only adds to the sense of nervousness and uncertainty. I came out of the cinema with my nerves shredded and my nails noticeably shorter.
Recommended for you: Real-Time – Examining How the Safdie Brothers Experiment with Naturalistic Cinema
3. The Lighthouse
If having to stay at home for most of the year wasn’t horrifying enough, then Robert Eggers’ follow up to The Witch is some crazy Nostradamus level horror.
Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe give deranged performances as a couple of lighthouse keepers who are slowly slipping into insanity over a month in isolation; or is it two months? Or half a year? The frantic performances and disjointed scenes only aid to mess with your perception.
Religious overtones clash with homoeroticism, horror dances with the surreal. It’s the sort of film you would expect from the guy that directed The Witch and at the same time you can’t anticipate any of it.
Truly, unabashedly, giddily mad.