[31 Days Of Horror ’22] Mini Reviews: Possession (1981) and Mark of the Devil (1970)

Mini Review
Day 11: ‘Catch Up’
Possession (1981)

There are times when it’s quite easy for a film to just pass by, as was the case with Possession (1981), it was on a previous list that I didn’t quite get to and before there it was on the ‘to watch list’. Hearing about this film for so long and now having finally seen it, is there really ever the right time to watch a film that completely deconstructs the downfall of a relationship? Probably not, there probably is not a right time to watch a film like this.

When married couple Mark (Sam Neill) and Anna (Isabelle Adjani) drift apart with Anna asking for a divorce, both Anna and Mark descend into their own turmoil. Mark cannot and will not let go of Anna, even using their son Bob as a bargaining chip. Anna has not only left Mark but also her lover Heinrich (Heinz Bennet) and has secrets of her own, which she hides in a secret apartment.

Possession is one of the most difficult films to sit through, the abuse and toxic behaviours on display can be quite triggering for some and everything these characters go through is dire. There are moments of screaming, arguments, break downs and shocking moments. There is never a happy place, just pure human destruction. The performances are all different and certainly stand out, Isabelle Adjani is quite incredible especially with everything that Anna goes through. This film has much to unfold, it is not a film for
everyone and in its own way it is quite excellent.


Mini Review
Day 12: ‘From the 1970s’
Mark of the Devil (1970)

‘Positively The Most Horrifying Film Ever Made’ is one of the taglines for today’s film Mark Of The Devil (1970), big words for a film to live up to and this film certainly tried its hardest to do that. Taking place in 1700s Austria, the film focuses on a town where many residents are being accused of witchcraft. The trials and tribulations are on full display, with torture for confessions and public executions, not much is held back.

Whilst all the witch hunting and accusations are going on, the film has a love story flowing through it with Count Christian von Meruh (Udo Kier) and Vanessa (Olivera Katarina). Christian acts as apprentice to renown Witch Hunter Lord Cumberland (Herbert Lom), Vanessa ends up being accused by the towns Witch Hunter Albino (Reggie Nalder) after she refuses his advances. A conflict arises in Christian over his loyalty to Cumberland and his love for Vanessa.

Mark Of The Devil does not hold back with its brutality, the violence is on full display with lots of blood. It can be excessive but that is the point, to show the true horrors of what people went through in an age of witch hysteria. Those making accusations and holding trials have their own reasons for doing what they do, whether it’s to hold power over the people, revenge or aiming to gain wealth. No matter their motivation, they truly didn’t care about witchcraft, just persecuting people and making it a spectacle. The love story and conflict shown in the film is handled wonderfully by the great Udo Kier, whose portrayal of Christian is strong yet empathetic. Herbert Lom and Reggie Nalder make for two truly horrifying villains, with Oliviera Katarina sharing great chemistry with Kier and a fierce nature when faced with danger. The film leans heavily into the exploitation genre, showcasing some true horrors within history.



Reviews written by Marcella Papandrea


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