**ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS, PROCEED WITH CAUTION**
Brandon Cronenberg’s POSSESSOR is one of 2020’s finest films and definitely my favorite film of the year. I managed to write over 3 thousand words on the power of the film, but today I am here to help you find all your options to rent or purchase this fine film in the United States and to help settle a bit of controversy about the word Uncut.
First of all, the general release Uncut version, which I have seen twice at drive in theatres, is exactly the same film that I saw twice at Sundance. I distinctly remember thinking to myself both times that I saw POSSESSOR at Sundance that it was unlikely that certain parts of the film were going to make it into US cinemas without certain cuts.
As usual, with the MPAA, violence is much more acceptable than sexuality or nudity and while there is some very brutal and graphic violence that might not make it, it was much more likely that the graphic nudity was more likely to be cut for the usual prudish American reasons. The nudity is both male and female and includes male and female genitalia. Most of the time, ogling the female body and female nudity is very permissible in American cinema. Most nudity is exclusively female, mostly breasts and buttocks. I don’t think that I am dealing out any spoilers here, but the nudity, as the violence, in the film serves the plot purposes and is not there for prurient or exploitative reasons. It’s merely presented as the reality of the human condition. Sometimes adult human beings have sex, generally they are naked while doing so, and cameras being used for surveillance don’t cut away for the viewers. If anything, it is there to underline how personal privacy is being eroded by technology and can be exploited by the corporations who sell us the tech.
Additionally, I read that about one minute of running time was shaved from the film to get it under the wire of the R rating restrictions. While perusing the details of the film on the streaming services for the following list, I noted that the Uncut version has a running time of 1 hour, 44 minutes and 17 seconds or 104 minutes and the R rated cut has a running time of 1 hour, 43 minutes and 29 seconds or 103 minutes total. There has been a bit of Twitter grousing that the Uncut was added to the title for marketing purposes. No, the film is violent in a way that you normally only see in Italian Giallo films, specifically those of Lucio Fulci. There are references to the Gialli form and stylistic flourishes. As I have noted before, the violence in the scenes have been seen before, but it is the performances of the actors, story, and the emotional connection to the violence that makes it as disturbing as it is.
For those who would like to argue with me about how the film could not truly be “Uncut” if only a minute was taken out, you might want to check out this list of movies that were cut to be screened with an R rating rather than presented in limited release as a NC-17 film. To be considered R rated, many films have sacrificed only a few frames. The infamous Basic Instinct was cut by one minute and the record holder was the equally infamous Body of Evidence that was forced to cut two minutes to appease the censors.
I actually watched the R rated version to compare the two and I have found the following differences:
- The first assassination is slightly shorter, it’s a matter of a few less knife thrusts.
- The scene of the couple having sex that Colin watches in “The Mine” is cut. The sex is toned down and the clearly visible genitalia is gone. No erect dong in the R rated version, sorry.
- During the sex scene between Colin and Ava, the shot of Colin turning into Tasya but with Riseborough’s naked torso and Colin’s penis is not in the R rated version.
- In the Parse assassination sequence, the gore is toned down – two of the most gory wounds to John Parse are cut entirely or obscured. Is the scene still pretty brutal? Yes, gorehounds will miss those spectacular effects. Ava’s death is the same.
- The final murders are slightly different. The first one has been shortened about 12 seconds and a shot of a bloody torso is not pictured in the R version. The second death has a few frames gone that deletes two truly stunning wound effects. The answer is yes, the Uncut version is called Uncut for a reason.
Here’s the streaming information broken down by the version of the film for all the available VOD services in the US. There has been no information about the eventual release on the monthly streaming services like Netflix, Prime, or Shudder as yet.
POSSESSOR UNCUT is available on the following streaming services:
- FandangoNow: Rental HD: $5.99 / SD: 4.99 Purchase: HD 14.99 / SD: 12.99
- Google Play: Rental 4.99 / 12.99 Purchase No HD/SD option
- iTunes: 4K HDR Rent $5.99 / Buy $7.99
- Microsoft: Rental SD/HD 4.99 / Purchase SD: 12.99 / HD 14.99
- Redbox Purchase HD: 14.99 / SD: 12.99
- Vudu: Rental SD: 4.99 / HDX: 5.99 / Purchase SD/HDX: 9.99
- Youtube Rental SD: 4.99 / HD 5.99 / Purchase SD: 12.99 / HD 14.99
POSSESSOR (the R rated version) is available on the following streaming services:
- Amazon Prime Video: Rent HD: 5.99 / SD 4.99 / Buy HD/SD 7.99
- Google Play Rental 4.99 / 12.99 Purchase No HD/SD option
- Microsoft: Rental SD/HD 4.99 / Purchase SD: 12.99 / HD 14.99
- Redbox: Purchase SD: 12.99 / HD: 14.99
Proceed with caution:
- Direct TV: Rent: 5.99 / Buy 9.99 (listed as Uncut, but at the cut time of 103 minutes. I suspect this is actually the cut version that is labelled as uncut.
POSSESSOR does have tremendous re-watch value, as my six viewings will attest to, and is available for pre-order from Diabolik DVD as an uncut 4K UHD Blu Ray and available for pre-order right now as a regular DVD for release on December 8 . It will be easier to tell the DVD release apart since the R rated version has a red cover and the Uncut version has the yellow cover and helpfully says Uncut on it.
I will say that my fourth viewing did reveal that there are subliminal cuts in the film. There was also an officially licensed VHS pre-order from Retro Release Video that I sadly missed out on before it sold out. I am hoping to beg them to do a second run, so if you would like to help me pester them very nicely to do so, I would appreciate that assistance. There is also a Mondo LP of the wonderful and unnerving score by Jim Williams available for pre-order. The real heads know.
How much do I love this film? You have no idea, but I could continue to write articles about it and all the details that I am continuing to discover about it and I probably will keep doing just that. Do not miss POSSESSOR.