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Possessed (1999, Udo Kier, Ole Lemmeke)

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Danish horror movies are, like English wine and American fashion, guaranteed to divert the eye and raise questions and this film, from a protégé of Lars Von Trier, is no exception. It begins with a flight into Copenhagen airport where two men alight. But outside the terminus, Vincent (UDO KIER) finds his friend attacking a local woman, and sparking a manhunt. The attacker is later found dead, exhibiting symptoms of a rabid but unidentified virus.

Ambitious doctor Søren (OLE LEMMEKE) is quick to search for the cause of the infection, tracing it back to the men’s departure point, Romania. Enlisting the help of his partner Sarah (KIRSTI ELINE TORHAUG), he flies to Eastern Europe and locates the possible carrier, a seven-year-old whose body is exhumed for biopsy. Just as science thinks it has triumphed, the true apocalyptic magnitude of Søren’s actions are revealed…

Possessed is certainly better than End of Days, Schwarzenegger’s pantomime of millennial angst and also outshines Outbreak and most of Hollywood’s viral thrillers thanks to a willingness to go further than mainstream cinema (infant exhumation is unlikely to be Bruckheimer’s next pitch). The soulless Bucharest locations are used to stretch the $2.5 million budget, itself raised from personal funds of the director, producer and cinematographer, and visuals vary between the assured and the magnificent, particularly when a manacled Søren tries to evade a potentially fatal pool of viral blood.

production details
Denmrk – Romania | 96 minutes | 1999

Director: Anders Rønnow-Klarlund
Writers: Ola Saltin, Anders Rønnow-Klarlund

cast
Udo Kier as Vincent
Ole Lemmeke as Søren
Kirsti Eline Torhaug as Sarah
Ole Ernst as Bentzon
Iben Hjejle as Berit
Niels Anders Thorn as Jensen
Nikolaj Lie Kaas as Morten