Interview With ‘Possessor’ Filmmaker Brandon Cronenberg

If I could only watch one movie this year, it would be Brandon Cronenberg’s Possessor. The highly anticipated follow up to Cronenberg’s first film, 2012’s Antiviral, has been a long time coming. Once I’d watched it, Antiviral quickly became one of my favorites, and I have been impatiently waiting for Cronenberg to give us another gem. And fuck, dude! Possessor is so good! Like really fucking good. It’s dark, trippy, and uber-violent, but also creative and just a well made film. I was lucky enough to speak with Brandon, and we talked about his inspiration for the film, what he would be doing if not making movies, and of course, horror films.

PopHorror: I’m a huge fan of Antiviral, so when I heard Possessor was coming out, I knew I had to see it. And I loved it! It’s so good, so unique, and just as fantastic as Antiviral. So, I wanted to know, what inspired Possessor?

Brandon Cronenberg: That’s very kind of you. It was actually—and this is maybe kind of a trivial personal thing—I started playing with the idea on the Antiviral press tour. It’s a very strange thing when you are traveling with a film for the first timem because you’re sort of inventing this public persona and performing yourself in a weird way. Or this other version of yourself, this media self that then goes off and has its own life without you. So, because of that and a few other things, I was finding it suddenly hard to see myself in my own life. I was waking up in the morning, sitting up and feeling that I was sitting up in someone else’s life, having to kind of construct a character who could operate in that context. And I wanted to write a script about a character who may or may not be an impostor in their own life and use that as a way to talk about how we build characters and narratives in order to operate as people.

PopHorror: Have you always known that you wanted to be a filmmaker?

Brandon Cronenberg: No, I came to it fairly late in life, to be honest. I was sort of interested in everything but filmmaking.

PopHorror: Is that because you didn’t want to do the same thing as your dad and wanted to do something different?

Brandon Cronenberg: I don’t know. I don’t know, maybe. It’s hard to know how much that expectation played into it as someone who was taking some delight in having no interest in filmmaking, but that ultimately seemed like a fairly bad reason to not do something you’re interested in.

PopHorror: If you weren’t doing this now, what do you think you’d be doing?

Brandon Cronenberg: Probably entomology.

PopHorror: I feel stupid that I am not familiar with what that is.

Brandon Cronenberg: The study of bugs.

PopHorror: Oh, that’s very interesting. What is it that draws you to horror?

Brandon Cronenberg: That’s a good question. I think horror, as with sci-fi, is a good way of discussing in metaphorical terms our real world. Not necessarily all horror. It’s a very broad genre, obviously, and there are a lot of ways to approach it. But I’m definitely interested in the satirical genre, and I’m interested in taking the real world and skewing it in a way where we can talk about that through a different lens and through caricature. So horror, I think, is useful in approaching the world that way.

PopHorror: I can agree with that. If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?

Brandon Cronenberg: I think it’s dangerous to want to collaborate with anybody because you never know. You never know how that’s really going to go.

PopHorror: Don’t they say to never meet your heroes?

Brandon Cronenberg: Yeah, I think that’s probably good advice.

PopHorror: I know that Covid has stalled a lot of things, and a lot of projects have been either cancelled or put on hold. But is there anything that you’re currently working on?

Brandon Cronenberg: I have two films that are pretty far along in development at this point. One is Infinity Pool, which is this tourist resort satire with some sci-fi horror elements. And another one is Dragon, which is a hallucinatory space horror film. Both of them are written and pretty close to being able to shoot, but it’s, of course, pandemic-dependent, so we will see how that plays out. But I’m eager to shoot again. It took way too long to get this film made.

PopHorror: And you’re currently in Canada?

Brandon Cronenberg: Yes, in Toronto.

PopHorror: I’ve heard that they’re opening up a lot faster than we are here in the US, with film sets being allowed to start filming and beginning to open it up more.

Brandon Cronenberg: It’s interesting. I’m not sure how it’s going to go. We are in a period of openness with film production starting up again, and that’s great. Except we’re all just now hitting our second wave… in Ontario, at least. I don’t know how long that’s going to last. I hope it just keeps up, and people have possibly found a way to shoot safely. I know a lot of people who are working right now, and they’re doing it successfully and safely, so that makes me a little optimistic. But the numbers are rising here again, and I don’t know if that’s going to cause another shut down or not.

PopHorror: Well, I’m very excited about what you are working on. You could tell me you’re going to make something about grass growing, and I would be excited to watch it.

Brandon Cronenberg: I’m stealing that idea from you!

PopHorror: I really just have one last question for you, Brandon. What is your favorite scary movie?

Brandon Cronenberg: I don’t have one. I’m terrible at answering those questions. I don’t know what the best of anything is.

PopHorror: What’s the one that you find yourself going back to the most? That you watch the most. I would call that a favorite.

Brandon Cronenberg: Honestly, I don’t know. I can say that in the process of making Possessor, there were certain films that we kept on going back to during the development process. That wasn’t really for personal reasons, but we, for instance, looked at Opera a lot, the Argento movie, because the stylized violence and the steady cam were related to what we were doing. I don’t really have that one film that I watch over and over again. I think partly because I wasn’t a huge cinephile growing up. I love movies, but I would spend a lot of time reading books, and I have a lot of catching up to do. There are a few embarrassing gaps in my film knowledge, so usually when I’m watching something new, it’s something that someone has berated me for not having seen.

Thank you so much, Brandon, for speaking with us. Be sure to catch Possessor in theaters now!

About Tiffany Blem

Horror lover, dog mommy, book worm, EIC of PopHorror.

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