In one scene in Andrzej Zulawski’s “cult” horror thriller, “Possession” (1981), Sam Neill’s character Mark tells Isabelle Adjani’s character Anna, “I think of you as an animal, or a woman possessed…”! It wouldn’t be entirely inappropriate to say that this is true of almost all the characters in this substandard mess of a horror film cum “intense” drama, for all the primary characters behave like mentally deranged morons or appear stoned whenever they are on screen.
Heinz Bennet is another such actor whose Heinrich character seems to be perpetually stoned and delivers lines of dialog as if he is delivering a sermon, rehearsed too! A couple more characters like Margit Gluckmeister (Margit Cartensen), Anna’s best friend, and a detective (Carl Duering) sent to find out Anna’s whereabouts, do their bits in being the jesters in this circus of madness. Caricature-like characterization, to a great extent, and a substantial lack of suspense mar any prospects the film otherwise had owing to its intricate plot which is again, mostly incoherent in the preliminary viewing but makes some weird sense after a bit of analysis.
There are a few redeeming qualities in “Possession”, like the aforementioned, deliberately equivocal plot that offers some good food for thought and room for multiple interpretations, and a couple disturbing moments, like the scene in the subway when Anna experiences a violent seizure of sorts like she is possessed by an unseen power…a terrific display of an uninhibited and energetic performance in that one scene wins Adjani all the points she deserves (and only she deserves points, if at all) in this otherwise doomed venture.