Have you ever wondered what it might be like for a woman miscarrying a tentacle monster fetus in a subway station?
Well, wonder no more.
This moment of learning comes to you courtesy of Polish director Andrzej Żuławski and his 1981 unrelenting anxiety-fest Possession. It’s a Lovecraft movie in all the important respects, except that A) Lovecraft didn’t write it and B) Lovecraft could never quite have written it, because he kept his fear of intimacy and sex fiercely repressed throughout his entire life.
There are no children and no women in Lovecraft’s work – but Zulawski made a film that found in relationships exactly the same sort of bottomless horror that Lovecraft found in evolution, time, and space. The psychology of the film is profound, at least for anyone who’s ever been cheated on or just plain manipulated by someone they’ve made the mistake of loving. And the monster at the center of it all is perfect, crafted by Carlo Rambaldi, also responsible for the creature effects in Alien.
But the real power of the film isn’t in its plot or its monster, but in the way the disjointed, surreal script makes the viewer constantly question and dissect everything they’re seeing. There seems to be some vague, suggestive resolution at the end, but the whole thing remains decidedly up for debate. I love this sort of film (or book), disjointed in such a clearly careful way, suggestive rather than explicit, evocative and mythic rather than beat-driven.
It’s a goal I’m a long way from in my own creative writing, where my journalistic and academic background push me constantly towards precision. But I’m sure I’ll be revisiting Possession for pointers.