Possession [2002/I]

Mark (Sam Neill) comes home from months on the road to find his flighty wife, Anna (Isabelle Adjani in an almost bug-eyed performance), ready to divorce him. Distraught and angry, he tracks down her lover, but discovers a secret unknown to either of the men. Anna has given birth, literally, to a demon lover (created by monster maker Carlos Rimbaldi), and she'll murder anyone who dares to come between them. Full of anger, jealousy, emotional suffering, and vindictiveness, this bizarre, bleak horror film is a mix of Hollywood melodrama, European psychodrama, and the raw, blunt emotions of personal art cinema. Mark and Anna grow increasingly shrill and erratic as they sink deeper into madness and obsession, and finally doppelgängers, also played by Neill and Adjani, arise to take their place. Hints of Rosemary's Baby, The Omen, and the biological horrors of David Cronenberg float through the story. The English-language French production was shot in Germany with a Polish director and an international cast, which only adds to the dissonance. Andrzej Zulawski (who claims that the film was inspired by his own divorce) directs this obscure and often alienating film with unrelenting intensity. The 2-hour film was cut down to 80 minutes for its original American release, and has only now been restored to full length. The DVD features commentary by Zulawski in conversation with his biographer, Dan Bird. --Sean Axmaker

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