A woman starts exhibiting increasingly disturbing behavior after asking her husband for a divorce. Suspicions of infidelity soon give way to something much more sinister.

Editing: Marie-Sophie Dubus, Suzanne Lang-Willar
Andrzej Korzynski

Cast:  Isabelle Adjani, Sam Neil, Margit Carstensen, Heinz Bennent, Johanna Hofer, Carl Duering, Michael Hogben

Directors: Andrzej Zulawski
Writers: Andrzej Zulawski, Frederic Tuten
Cinematography: Bruno Nuytten

I’ve heard about Possession; it’s a film in the years past that I’d listen to others rave about the subway scene as Isabelle Adjani gives it 120% and then some more for extra measure. I pressed play on Possession thinking it would be a wild ride but wasn’t aware it would end up being something that would haunt me for nights on end as I replayed scenes over and over in my head. 

Umbrella Entertainment has released Possession as “Beyond Genres #11”, and boy does this film defy genres. It’s a Cold War thriller, a horror movie and above all else, a terrifying, dramatic roller coaster into a marriage that’s ripping itself apart. 

Mark (Sam Neil) returns home from a mission behind the Berlin Wall to learn his wife, Anna (Isabelle Adjani), wants a divorce. Assuming the worst, Mark inquires about another man, which Anna doesn’t try to hide, but the truth behind this relationship, how it started, and what it’ll do to Mark and Anna, as well as their son Bob, is something no one could predict. 

If you’ve never seen Possession, like I hadn’t, do not read the film’s blurb. I’m aware the film’s original trailer gives away a lot, as does the back of the film’s packaging, but trust me when I say knowing the least, you can only make the Possession experience even more terrifying and wild. 

Adjani’s performance earned herself a Best Actress award at Cannes 1981, and it was well-deserved. She’s able to communicate this woman who’s suffered for a long time and who has found someone able to fulfil her needs. But she’s still being torn apart from the two sides of her life. The subway scene I mentioned earlier is one of the most haunting performances I’ve ever seen in any movie, period. And it’s not because it’s gory or disturbing in the way it’s edited. No, it’s entirely on Adjani’s violent performance that’s both horrifying to watch and as if you’re watching someone in the worst moment of their life; for a moment, I forgot I was watching a film and felt bad for staring.


  • Audio commentary with Director Andrzej Żuławski

  • Audio commentary with Co-writer Frederic Tuten

  • The Other Side of the Wall: The Making of Possession

  • Interview with with Director Andrzej Żuławski

  • US Cut of Possession

  • Repossessed – Featurette on the US Cut of Possession

  • A Divided City – Location Featurette

  • The Sounds of Possession – Interview with Composer Andrzej Żuławski

  • Our friend in the West – Interview with Producer Christian Ferry

  • Basha – Poster Analysis Featurette

  • International Theatrical Trailer

  • US Theatrical Trailer

Sam Neil is also fantastic in Possession, and although he rides a very thin line between overacting and hitting the sweet spot, director Andrzej Żuławski is seeking from his actors. This is also Neil in his pre-Hollywood phrase (if you want to call it that) as both Possession and Omen III: The Final Conflict was released within a year of one another. Both films feature Neil putting in these off the walls performances. I love it. Please bring it back, Neil!

Possession is part of the ‘Video Nasties.’ Banned in the U.K. for nearly twenty years and butchered in the editing room to be released in the U.S., it’s a film that needed a proper release. What’s included here is the final cut and is the “version of the film Andrzej Żuławski intended.” 

Included on the disc are audio commentaries with Andrzej Żuławski and co-writer Frederic Tuten and several behind-the-scenes features that are super-interesting to dive into after watching Possession. There’s a lot to unpack, from the film’s production to the direction and how the actors felt in such a wild and weird movie. The film’s music is integral to several scenes, including the subway, so I was glad to see a conversation with Andrzej Korzynski included here.

Possession looks and sounds excellent on Bluray with a 1080p HD remaster and a mono DTS audio makeover. The grey textured Cold War-era cinematography paired with the graphic scene’s make the blood pop. And red is a colour that stands out in this film in more ways than one. 

The Bluray release I was provided for review includes a striking slipcover case, while the Bluray case itself features a flippable design. Both are striking, although one is a bit bloodier than the other.

I can not oversell how wild Possession is, but what will hurt you most is the raw emotion between two people going through a violent and horrific breakup. It’s a raw film with performances out of another world and well-deserving of the Beyond Genres label.

Film Score

Blu-ray Score