Review: Matthew Holness’ Possum (Experimental, Theatrical and Bizarre)

What did I just watch? Possum‘s synopsis is listed as, “A disgraced children’s puppeteer must confront his sinister stepfather and a hideous puppet he keeps hidden in a brown leather bag in order to escape the dark horrors of his past,” but Possum is much deeper than that. It’s not a fun, childlike adventure. It’s experimental, Hitchcockian in nature, and shines a light on the lost art of puppetry. Matthew Holness must’ve reached into the edges of his mind to write Possum, and you’ll get to see this nightmare inducing horror flick for yourself when it hits select theaters and digital platforms on November 2nd 2018 courtesy of Dark Sky Films. Really, though. This one creeped out, especially when the puppet – a big spider with a human head – was on screen. Depression and despair lies beneath a feature film with lovely locations, perfect camera work, and the essence of hope. It’s almost theatrical in nature, with the musical scores and performances, but damn is this one dark. Completely odd and bizarre. Again, what did I just watch?

Possum was produced by Wayne Marc Godfrey, James Harris, Robert Jones, Mark Lane and co-producers Babek Eftekhari and James Cotton. I can only imagine what the team went through psychologically while working on this film with director Matthew Holness. It’s so unsettling and disturbing, while somehow never being too high on the horror and science fiction charts. This, perhaps, makes it land at the top of the psychological horror subgenre. It scares you without actually being scary. It makes you feel uneasy without grossing you out. It’s unsuspecting and diabolical, and filled with beautiful scenic locations and even a train full of people. Possum was a high caliber picture, really not even able to be classified as independent because it’s so professional, and cinematographer Kit Fraser and editor Tommy Boulding helped to ensure that you get the most out of this contrast. Flawless beauty, effortless terror. I’m sure I missed out on important plot points because I was marveling at the behind-the-scenes work and mood, but I don’t even care. Possum was good.

Sean Harris, Alun Armstrong, Andy Blithe, Ryan Enever, Charlie Eales, Joe Gallucci, Rohan Gotobed, Raphel Famotibe and Simon Bubb star in Possum. Sean Harris stars as Philip, an incredibly troubled puppeteer. While Philip is definitely troubled and disturbed, I can’t help but to feel sorry for him even when he’s doing something bad. It’s really an incredibly performance from Sean Harris, who shows such a range of emotions only through his facial expressions and body language. Masterful acting, indeed. And you have to wonder throughout the movie, if the spider-head puppet is really coming to life or if it’s all a work of psychosis in Philip’s head. What a wonderful viewing experience, and a different addition to the Dark Sky Films catalog. I didn’t think I’d like this movie after my viewing, but as I pieced this review together, I thought, “wow!” Possum is in select theaters and digital platforms on November 2nd and I’d definitely recommend it to bizarre horror enthusiasts and people who want to feel dirty and upset after they watch. Not that that’s a bad thing! Possum brings the art of puppetry back to life in a sickening way, and for that I salute you, Matthew Holness.

Final Score: 7.5 out of 10

Written by Michael Therkelsen

(Senior Editor)