Possum (2018) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Possum (2018) Review

Horrorific content by Ciarán Coleman on September 20th, 2021 | Movie Review | Slow Burn, Psychological, Dysfunctional Family, Arthouse

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It’s about a disgraced children’s puppeteer, Phillip, returning home and being forced to face his abusive childhood, twisted stepfather and suspicions of abducting a schoolboy all while trying to get rid of a grotesque, spider-like marionette called ‘Possum’ that plagues his life.

Directed by Mathew Holness and starring Sean Harris, ‘Possum’ is artsy, grotesque and ultimately horrifying. Harris provides one of the finest performances ever seen in a horror film, portraying a mentally unstable man with finesse and abstract dignity. The directing, framing and writing show him to be a disturbing figure but Harris’ acting makes him come across more pitiful than off putting.

Can You Spot Him Deep Within? Little Possum. Black As Sin.

Possum Review

Possum’ is quite possibly the bleakest, most depressing horror movie I’ve ever seen and it's fair to say I didn’t enjoy the experience of watching it one bit. All in all, it was a brilliant horror film.

This film is relentlessly bleak, in such a way that it’s truly hard to watch. There isn’t a glimpse of sunlight or hope throughout pretty much the entire 90 minute run. The horror is frustratingly real and disturbing and has an iridescent way of sticking in your head. If you’re looking for a campy horror to watch on a Friday this is definitely not for you. It’s aggressively depressing.

That being said, the horror in ‘Possum’ is undeniably captivating. The almost post-apocalyptic scenery and set pieces add to the already miserable tone. We are seeing the world through Phillip’s eyes and its emptiness is filled with a claustrophobic depression that the film captures perfectly. The abandoned train tracks, bleak, vacant schoolyard and decrepit back garden are just glimpses into the colourless life Phillip is forced to see.

The marionette ‘Possum’ is a genius design. The disgusting, spider legs marred with the doll's head makes for a genuinely terrifying image that is consistently scary through-out. Holness uses clever film-making to never fully reveal the creature design in shots and is reserved in how he portrays Possum, only showing enough to curdle your blood and make your skin crawl.

Sean Harris’s eerily good portrayal allows you to see the childhood turmoil brimming just beneath his adult outside. Sometimes you’re left wondering if he’s 13 or 55. The scenes between him and his uncle Maurice are, surprisingly, more disturbing than any creepy imagery of Possum.

There’s a vitriolic overtone that can often make ‘Possum’ feel overly cynical but it’s never bitter in its approach to its difficult themes. Though self indulgent it's undeniably well made, with great cinematography spliced between strong writing and directing. It’s strong and rewarding ending ties the film together well and allows it to end on a strong note.

Worth Watching?

I’d say yes. It’s definitely not for everyone and is oftentimes more depressing than scary but ‘Possum’ is a well made dive into psychological horror that will stick with you long after the film ends.

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