After returning to his gloomy and nearly dilapidated childhood home, a disgraced children’s puppeteer is forced to confront his wickedly cruel stepfather and a hideous puppet that he keeps secretly hidden inside a brown leather bag, in order to escape the dark horrors of his past and the secrets that have tortured him his entire life.
After Phillip (Sean Harris), is fired from his job, he returns to his home town in Norfolk where he was bought up by his Uncle Morris (Alun Armstrong). This house holds a lot of grief and carries with it memories of the past where his parents died in the home when a fire broke out. Sadly, Morris has not made any attempt to repair any of the damages or do any renovations since the inferno, leaving the house to decay and rot away from neglect, with the scars from the fire remaining. as Maurice is just as dirty and off-putting as the house and obviously has a tense relationship with Phillip.
Maurice constantly taunts Philip about his failures and his childhood, while he quietly takes the verbal abuse. Morris also cruelly encourages Phillip to look at the puppets he used to make when he was a child but Phillip seems reluctant to do so and appears to be already haunted by something he carries inside his brown leather bag that he forever takes around with him everywhere he goes. Phillip’s facial expressions and body language are actually painful to view; so adept is he at conveying the excruciating loneliness of losing one’s mind. It’s a brilliant performance and undeniably great acting.
While he (Phillip) struggles to figure out his haunted thoughts, he faces the nightmare creation he made called Possum, a hideous looking puppet-head with long thick hairy spindly legs which glares at him from within the bag. Trying to release his past by walking through the local forests and moorlands, which is dreary, repetitive, and barren, he attempts to get rid of his humanoid spider puppet, but somehow it keeps on returning until he discovers the reason for its existence. There’s also a child abduction case lurking in the shadows, and Philip’s presence in the town begins to stir controversy and whispers; this is especially true when the same boy that he had interacted with goes missing.
Possum is extremely emotional and psychological. It’s a very heavy and deep horror film. Admittingly, It’s a slow burn, but a great watch for anyone that enjoys art house cinema and slow-burning psychological horror. The film is very atmospheric and does not rely on jump scares but paints a very sad picture indeed. Possum is horrifically bleak and sinister, from the filthy and claustrophobic setting to the toxicity of the main characters’ relationship, and the sparseness of the dialogue all combined to produce one intense psychological experience. The ending might even make you feel a little sick as it did to me, its just that serious a movie.
As for other details on Possum, Matthew Holness wrote the script (based on a short story he published in 2008), and Possum is his cinematic debut. Holness is renowned for the much-loved cult classic, Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace. The movie could cause a trigger for someone who has experienced abuse due to the explicit nature of the movie, like sexual, mental and physical abuse and the psychological response to abuse from the victims perspective, therefore it may not be suitable for some audiences. Possum also reminded me of another disturbing movie I once saw called Eraserhead. The overall color scheme is dark, dreary, and depressing, and the ending is shocking, to say the least. Go see this one, at least once, but if you have issues with some of the points I mentioned you might want to stay clear of this one.
Release Date: June 25, 2018
Runtime: 1 hour, 25 minutes
Genre: Horror, Drama, Thriller
Studio: Dark Sky Films
Starring: Sean Harris, Alun Armstrong, Simon Bubb
MPAA Rated: NR
Directors: Matthew Holness
Reviewed by: Grim Magazine
Our Rating: 3.6 /5
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