Possession – France, 1981

‘Inhuman ecstasy fulfilled.’

Possession is a 1981 French horror feature film directed by Polish filmmaker Andrzej Żuławski and starring Isabelle Adjani and Sam Neill. Żuławski has stated that he wrote the screenplay in the midst of a messy divorce.


The film was controversial when first released, and heavily edited for distribution in the United States. After an initial limited theatre release in the United Kingdom, Possession was banned as one of the notorious so-called ‘video nasties’, although it was later released uncut on VHS in 1999. It gradually developed a minor cult following among arthouse aficionados.

Beyond the realm of human desire there is a darkness … A horror film like no other, Possession is an intense, shocking experience. With their marriage in pieces Anna and Mark’s tense relationship has become a psychotic descent into screaming matches, violence and self-mutilation. Believing his wife’s only lover is the sinister Heinrich, Mark is unaware of the demonic, tentacled creature that Anna has embarked on an affair with. The unhinged woman visits her monstrous lover in a deserted Berlin apartment and will stop at nothing to protect it…


“It’s a difficult movie which veers wildly between the Asinine and the Unforgettable, and is packed with disorienting compositions and images. I was thoroughly impressed by its wrongheaded audacity, while finding myself touched by some of the razor-edged pain on display. Overall, an odd, disturbing mish-mash of monsters, mayhem and emotional meltdowns.” Steve Puchalski, Shock Cinema

Isabelle Adjani and Sam Neill in Andrzej Zulawski's POSSESSION (

“For followers of purely mainstream cinema, it would be startling for any Sam Neill fans to stumble across Possession. You’ll see your familiar actor suffer a complete mental breakdown, and become a slurring, gibbering, violent lunatic. And that’s nothing compared to what happens to the heroine of the piece, Isabelle Adjani, who suffers through scenes of such intensity, it’s at times hard to watch.” Boris Lugosi, Girls, Guns and Ghouls

” …a barely watchable stew of unmediated mad-eyed acting and dialogue so laughably pretentious one has to check that the film isn’t a parody.” Jonathan Rigby, Euro Gothic

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