review by Bobby Blakey
Some of the best horror/thrillers films are those that are also really strange and often times make little to no sense. The latest Possum stars Sean Harris that most would know from Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation and Fallout as well as Alun Armstrong with director Matthew Holness at the helm. The imagery for the poster is hauntingly creepy, but can this film live up to the imagery it showcases or will it struggle to find its voice?
Possum follows Philip, a disgraced children's puppeteer, who returns to his dilapidated childhood home and lecherous stepfather, Maurice. Philip is intent on destroying "Possum,"a hideously malformed spider-puppet he carries with him in a brown leather case. Unfortunately, and horrifically, Possum refuses to be abandoned. Philip's mind is flooded with painful half-memories and nightmarish visions, and when he finds himself embroiled in a local investigation surrounding a missing boy, he grows progressively unsure of what's real and what's not. All the while Possum seems to mock his suffering at every turn.
This movie fully lives up to the creepiness of its poster and stills while never fully being a horror film. There is nothing here that is really scary per say, but it is pretty bizarre and often times disturbing in story context. The is very little dialogue which makes it so much more impactful in understanding everything that is seemingly going on. Sean Harris gives a subtle performance, but the mixture of this body language and speech patterns along with his clearly tormented visage makes it all the more powerful than it may seem. Alun Armstrong rounds out the other side of the pure evil to the film bringing a dark feeling to his unpleasant character that while makes your skin crawl still has moments of light that are always overshadowed by something darker.
I was expecting something more horrific when seeing the look of the puppet and while the puppet itself is disturbing and has moments that will no doubt terrify some it isn’t the bigger issue here. Philip’s emotional struggle with fantasy and the real world is the true scary part as you see it unraveling in some bizarre ways taking it in some deep rooted physical and psychological directions. The surroundings to the film are gritty and dirty throughout adding to the tone of the film that will have some people’s skin crawl even if it’s just the bugs in attendance.
This is not a film for everyone, but I have to say I really liked it. Its uncomfortable tone from beginning to end along with its bizarre execution just worked for me. At the same time I totally understand those that either don’t get it or just hate it as it is a unique piece that will have a different effect with everyone.