Possum is available to rent or buy now.
The surprising creation of Matthew Holness, known for Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, Possum follows a disgraced children’s puppeteer who returns to his childhood home, and as a result, must grapple with the visceral childhood trauma that he’s repressed ever since. As you can tell from the description, this is quite the left turn from the humorous antics of Garth Marenghi.
Possum is just a deeply, deeply unsettling film. Containing one of the most disturbing-looking puppets I’ve ever seen in my life, Possum is a cold dive into murky, psychological waters. Some films make you feel warm and safe – but this film leaves you ice-cold and downright uncomfortable, often without doing anything. This likely comes from the intelligent structure and inspirations that Holness pulled from, including Sigmund Freud’s theories on the uncanny; silent horror films of the 1920s and 1930s, and perhaps most interestingly, 70s and 80s public information films. The result is this bone-chillingly uncomfortable watch, but why you feel uncomfortable, you can’t quite tell.
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As we learn more and more, we begin to trust our protagonist Phillip less and less – from the opening, he strikes you as odd, like we’re in bad company. Every element of this film seems strategically designed to make you feel off, which is pretty similar to the tone of many public information films when you think about it. In this case, Holness is just dialling it up to 11. A lot of Possum is just wandering across moors and around abandoned buildings, reflective of his own interest in the German Expressionist films, and yet there is this protruding fear that infects every frame.
The best way to describe the tone of Possum is a shameful seediness – as though you’ve committed some perverse act by choosing to watch this, and now you’re being punished. Even when you’ve finished the film and you’re bathing a few hours later, you still feel dirty – the filth of Possum not easily scrubbed away. There will be images of this film that will stay with you for weeks – the bald spidery Possum skittering down an abandoned hallway chasing you and the evil gaze of its dead eyes staring into your soul through the inky darkness.
Possum manages to touch you in a place that not only did you not know existed but never would want anyone to access.