Film Review: Possum

Matthew Holness is one of the great enigmas of British comedy. After being nominated for the Perrier Award at Edinburgh Fringe two years on the bounce, he brought his most famous creation to Channel 4 Television. Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace remains one of the most surreal and unique comedies Britain has ever produced. Then, he seemed to almost disappear, except for the occasional cameo. He’s back with Possum, his first feature film as a writer and director. It’s an entirely different beast.

Philip (Sean Harris), a disgraced children’s puppeteer, returns to his childhood home in Norfolk. Moving back into the house which holds so many dark memories is difficult for him, especially with the presence of his sinister step-father Maurice (Alun Armstrong). However, Philip is determined to destroy Possum, the hideous puppet which he blames for causing his pain. When that fails, he must confront Maurice and his childhood trauma.

Possum is a dark, disturbing and disquieting look at the effects of childhood abuse and familial neglect. Inspired by his Holness’ research into the uncanny, it’s a bleak and desolate horror which contains flashes of Cronenberg and traces of macabre early silent films. This sense of wrongness is enhanced by a chilling score from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. At times it’s not an easy watch but Possum is an experience you won’t forget in a while, full of disturbing symbolism and featuring a striking central performance.

Possum will be released in UK cinemas on 26 October.

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