I came to this movie knowing literally nothing about it beforehand. Can you imagine the shock I got as the film played out?

I was thrilled to see the gorgeous French actress Isabelle Adjani in the lead female role. She is utterly exquisite to look at, and was superb in Werner Herzog’s film adaptation of NOSFERATU in 1979, in which she played the frail but determined and gutsy Lucy to Bruno Ganz’s Jonathan Harker.

Sam Neill of JURASSIC PARK (1993) and THE PIANO (1993) fame is quite a dish himself, and is still very good-looking in 1981 when this film was made. POSSESSION is set in Cold War-era West Berlin at the time of the infamous ‘Wall,’ about eight years before it eventually comes down. It’s a film about a couple divided, set in a city divided. That’s a catchy sound-bite, isn’t it?

The city streets look attractively decayed, all graffitied and dissolute, some thirty-six or so years after the end of World War Two. The huge run-down apartment building in which Adjani’s character Anna secretes her ‘lover’ greatly resembles one of those in which families of rich Jews resided, before the Gestapo would climb the grand and winding flights of stairs, rap hard on a particular door and inform the occupants of the flat that they have thirty minutes or less to get out of their home, and to bring with them only essential items and enough food and drink for three or four days and nights as well. Neighbours’ doors would remain uncompromisingly shut while the Jews were taken out of their legitimate homes and brought to ghettos, police stations or holding stations for the concentration camps. Chilling times, eh…?

Anyway, Sam Neill plays Mark, a returning spy who comes home to his West Berlin flat to discover that his beautiful wife, Anna (Adjani) has gone off him completely and has even been unfaithful to him, the shocking little hussy. She doesn’t even want him at their flat, which is deeply hurtful and even incomprehensible to Mark.

Throughout the entire film, either one or the other of them is constantly running away from their flat, which is bad news for their son Bob, aged five, who is fifty shades of fucked up due to his parents’ neglect and constant violent behaviour towards each other.

Mark runs off to look for the missing Anna, and Anna frequently disappears to visit the someone- or something- she’s got secreted in the rundown shabby grandeur of the apartment I was describing earlier. Is it real or is it a metaphor for the worst break-up of the most toxic marriage that ever existed…? Critics abound for either argument.

Toxic isn’t even the word for this awful marriage. Anna clearly feels stifled, suffocated, choked by Mark’s possessive, controlling love, and Mark is devastated to discover just how fed-up she is of him. Fed-up is the wrong word as well, it’s simply not strong enough.

She’s screaming hysterically, like a totally deranged person, for much of the movie, she attacks her own person with an electric carving knife, and there’s an horrific miscarriage-slash-birth scene in an empty subway tunnel at night that makes certain scenes in THE EXORCIST look like something out of LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE.

Mark still wants her though. Is it because of her incredible beauty, her desirability, her sexy French accent, lol? Certainly it’s not for her housekeeping skills, which would have to get nul points from any sane jury.

The apartment looks like a bomb hit it, little Bob isn’t being properly cared for and the neighbours, though we never see them, never, ever ever, must be driven out of their minds with all the noise from the perpetually warring couple. Though why should we care? Clearly they’re the same type of neighbour as the ones from Holocaust times, the type who ‘stay out of things’ and ‘don’t get involved’ when their neighbours are in obvious trouble…

And it’s not funny or particularly clever, the warring, unlike the open warfare between Kathleen Turner’s and Michael Douglas’s characters in WAR OF THE ROSES; it’s pure poison. Anna genuinely seems to be losing her mind, becoming unhinged. She’s the original Devil in a Blue Dress, and there’s no getting around it.

The themes include doppelgangers, marriage breakdown and selfish people deciding that they must have exactly what they want when they want it. Why are there doubles of both Anna and Mark? What have they been lined up for? It’s a tad confusing, especially when you see the school-teacher for the first time.

Heinrich the lover- Anna’s lover- is a strange fish all the same. Supposedly better in bed than Mark, despite the fact that he’s Mark’s senior by several years, maybe it’s his smooth talking that melts Anna’s butter. He’s always telling her how much better she is than anyone else, how she deserves only the best, which, I presume, means him and his big willy and his cunning little womanizing ways.

The woman who plays his wizened old mother- he lives with her- was born in 1896, which makes her really, really old in the film, lol. I know, that was profound. I just have a fascination for people who were born in the 1800s, and whose lives might even straddle three centuries, the nineteenth, the twentieth and the twenty-first. This woman’s didn’t; she expired in 1988 at the tender age of ninety-two…!

POSSESSION comes across as a kind of KRAMER VS. KRAMER as imagined by William Peter Blatty who penned THE EXORCIST, lol. It’s truly the break-up from hell, the worst imaginable, and some people consider the whole thing to be a metaphor for the director’s painful divorce. That must have been some divorce, because it’s some bleedin’ metaphor…

I love the electronic Eighties’ movie score, and the jerky stop-start musical stings that crop up from time to time. It sounds like something composed by Giorgio Moroder or Goblin, but it just says online that the music was done by an Andrzej Korzynski, so I don’t know anything about him except that he was some kind of musical genius. Either way, I dig how this film sounds.

The ‘Creature,’ by the way, was designed by Carlo Rambaldi, who also created E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial in the massively popular kids’ movie of the same name. He was the first special effects artist to be required to prove to law enforcement that his creations weren’t real and that dogs hadn’t really been butchered in a film he did called A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin by Lucio Fulci. Rambaldi, by so doing, saved his director from a possible two-year stretch…!

To finish; a few words on tentacle sex. Do I approve of it? Well, yes, but only if regular sex with a human male is off the table, for some reason. Say, we were taken over by tentacled space aliens who put all the males in cruel hard labour camps with lots of whipping and no Netflix and then seduced all the females who’d been left without blokes.

Under those circumstances, then, yes, obviously, I’d have no choice but to submit to vigorous sessions of tentacle sex, a type of coitus extremely popular in pornographic Japanese anime or manga titles, known collectively as hentai. They contain elements of fantasy, horror, science fiction and bestiality mixed with traditional pornography, and you simply wouldn’t believe how much the Japanese dig it. I actually wonder what they think of Lovecraft…?

Me, now, I’d only do it if all other avenues were closed, as it were, necessity being the mother of invention, and all that. Any port in a storm, after all. And I’d probably keep my eyes closed the whole time as well, so as not to see anything icky. There’s a small bit of nudity in the film, by the way; Sam Neill’s buttocks and Isabelle Adjani’s breasts. What a note to finish on…



This is a strange one. I got super-excited when I saw the cover on the DVD box, which featured an anonymous someone with half normal body parts and half sort of skeletonized limbs, to indicate a process of extreme ageing, hence the title.

I was also excited by the fact that the director, M. Night Shyamalan, is famed for the plot twists in his movies, for example, as in THE VILLAGE (2004), and I was hugely looking forward to the twist in this one. I kind of guessed it halfway through, though, with not a little help from the director himself, which was surprising.

Then the film started ending, and I kept waiting for the final plot twist that would justify my supreme faith in the director. Sadly, that didn’t come and I was left feeling a bit flat, but OLD is still a really entertaining and enjoyable- if confusing- horror film, even if M. Night Shyamalan himself denies that he’s a ‘horror’ film-maker.

Horror is the destination, he says, whereas he prefers his characters to come through the experience and out the other side, as it were. Yes, I did watch the thirty-minute extra feature, lol. It shows him saying the above thing about his not being a horror director, and then everything else is about how much he loves his three beautiful, talented daughters, at least two of whom worked on the film with him, one directing and one writing and performing the theme song. Fair enough, guy loves his family. I was glad the extra feature wasn’t any longer, though, as there’s only so much of that kind of thing you can stomach.

The plot sees three families coming to a fabulous island for a vacation, and then being offered the chance by the ‘resort manager’ to take a ‘day trip’ to a supposedly gorgeous stretch of private beach which they’ll remember for the rest of their lives. I’ve put in the quotation marks because nothing here is ‘as it seems,’ heh-heh-heh.

M. Night Shyamalan himself plays the tour bus driver who drives the group of ten people to this peach of a beach, and then drives off again after leaving them an unusually large amount of food. The beach sure is isolated. They reach it by walking through some eerie, lonely caves, then, once they’re ensconced on said beach, it very much looks like they won’t be able to leave it again…

Not only this, but they very quickly discover that the beach has an horrific secret that will mess not only with their minds but also with their physical bodies. You might be able to guess what happens from the title, but I won’t beat you over the head with it. It reminded me a lot of Stephen King’s excellent novella-turned-film, THINNER. As a body horror- even if ‘Night,’ as everyone calls him, doesn’t like to call it horror!- the film is pretty damn chilling and effective.

Particularly striking bits, for me, included Prisca Cappa’s stomach tumour, Kara’s ‘baby,’ a child born to another child, and what happens to the stunning blonde Mrs. Paranoid English Surgeon when her calcium deficiency gets terrifyingly out of hand. That poor, poor woman. I also really liked her husband, Mr. Paranoid English Surgeon, played by Rufus Sewell, having his mental breakdown on the same beach that will claim the lives of most of them before the story ends.

Ah, come on, guys. How is that a spoiler? What kind of an enchanted beach would it be that didn’t kill anyone, ever? Some magic beach that’d be. Cool your jets, lol, and enjoy the movie. It’s a weird one, but still well worth at least one watch. And don’t, whatever you do, call it a ‘horror’ to your mates, because, well, you know. ‘Night’ doesn’t dig it…  


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books: