Robert Pattinson and Parker Finn Remaking ‘Possession,’ the 1981 Isabelle Adjani Cult Horror Classic

Because you say ‘I’ for me…” and, apparently, because Hollywood said, “Here’s yet another cult classic we can now remake for profit.” It was inevitable that in the recent years since Andrzej Żuławski’s 1981 “Possession” has risen in status, a remake would come.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, actor/producer Robert Pattinson and “Smile” writer/director Parker Finn are attached to remount the body horror divorce nightmare that starred Sam Neill and Isabelle Adjani as a couple coming apart. Per THR, studios including A24, Netflix, Paramount, Sony, and Warner Bros. are engaged in a bidding war over the project, with meetings set to take place this week.

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IndieWire has confirmed Pattinson’s involvement under his producing banner Icki Eneo Arlo; he’s not yet attached to star. No word yet from Parker Finn’s team.

“Possession” is a film now arguably more famous for the TikToks and internet memes it’s inspired — mostly of Adjani, in an addled state, writhing around a Berlin subway tunnel and miscarrying a milky mix of ooze and blood — than its actual release. Adjani won Best Actress at Cannes that year for an unhinged performance that encompasses two roles: Anna, a dissatisfied housewife seeking affections elsewhere and possibly from a tentacular creature, and Helen, the schoolteacher of their son Bob, who takes Anna’s place. Neill plays Adjani’s husband, a West Berlin spy named Mark, who hires a private investigator after Anna breaks up their marriage unexpectedly, only to find much darker forces at play. Oscar-winning “Alien” and “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” VFX artist Carlo Rambaldi designed the creature, which may only exist in the characters’ imaginations.

Vertigo Entertainment’s Roy Lee, who also produced Zach Cregger’s horror breakout “Barbarian,” is on board, with Parker Finn set to write and direct per the report. Director Finn’s feature debut “Smile” grossed more than $217 million after opening in September 2022 as an original horror hit about a contagious terror. He’s in post now on “Smile 2,” also for Paramount Pictures. The sequel starring Rosemarie DeWitt, Raúl Castillo, and Dylan Gelula is dated October 18. Finn has a first-look deal with Paramount, though “Possession” is allegedly not part of that package, hence putting the studio among current bidders.

More than just a traditional horror movie, “Possession” was a freakout relationship drama, and Żuławski’s response to his own painful divorce at the time. While the movie has never been remade, a heavily recut version opened in American theaters in 1983. “Possession” runs just over two hours, and that recut clocked in at 81 minutes, its careening themes and visual styles and politics sanded down to a censored, eccentric body horror movie only. The Polish director died in 2016.

Actors Neill and Adjani have spoken openly since about the troubling experience of making the film. Adjani, who allegedly attempted suicide after production, said, in a 2023 Interview magazine feature, her treatment on set is something “I could never accept again.” Neill said in his memoir published last year that his sanity was “barely intact” after filming. A scene in which he had to slap his co-star remains “the most distressing thing I’ve ever done.” The most harrowing “Possession” moments find the couple flinging at each other in extended crisis, with Adjani’s Anna at one point taking a meat carver to her neck. And then there’s the inevitable miscarriage. And cuckolding sex with a tentacled creature.

Metrograph Pictures released a 4K restoration of “Possession” in 2021, with the film streaming on its home viewing platform and regularly making the rounds as a sold-out midnight movie at repertory theaters and arthouses.

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