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Possum is an unorthodox and unforgettable film. In part because of its enigmatic, oppressive, and skin-crawling mood and in part because of its uncomfortably large human-faced spider puppet.
The film follows a children’s puppeteer named Phillip (played by the marvelous and under-appreciated Sean Harris) who returns to his childhood home after losing his job for an unspecified reason. While attempting to rid himself of his grotesque spider-legged marionette “Possum,” the disgraced Phillip comes face to face his abusive stepfather (Braveheart‘s Alun Armstrong) and the dark secrets that have haunted him his whole life.
Possum was written and directed by Matthew Holness, whose short story of the same name was originally published in The New Uncanny: Tales of Unease. As a prompt, the anthology’s publisher Comma Press asked horror writers to examine Sigmund Freud’s essay on the Uncanny (a theory based on the existential phenomenon of encountering something simultaneously alien and familiar) and to select one essential human fear as inspiration for a modern horror story. Holness drew from not one, but two fears: puppets and doubles. Slap on some spider legs and the result is one hell of an expressionistic nightmare about a man trying to destroy a puppet that is as much a symbol of his past trauma as a reflection of himself.
You can watch “The Unseen Terror of Posssum” here:
Who made this?
“The Uncanny Horror of Possum” was created by Ryan Hollinger, a Northern Irish video essayist with a background in design and animation who specializes in horror films. Hollinger’s analysis usually takes the shape of a personal retrospective. Indulging in a healthy dose of nostalgia, Hollinger’s is contagiously endearing, entertaining, and informative. You can check out Hollinger’s podcast The Carryout on SoundCloud, here. And you can subscribe to Hollinger’s YouTube account, here.
More Videos Like This
- Hollinger has a fair share of videos on Scooby-Doo content, including an impressively thorough analysis of the Scooby-Doo direct-to-video movies of the early 2000s
- Fans of British sketch comedy might know Matthew Holness from his work on the brilliant but short-lived Bruiser, whose ensemble includes the likes of Olivia Colman, Martin Freeman, David Mitchell, Robert Webb, and Charlotte Hudson. Here’s Holness in a sketch on the cultured art of public urination
- Another video essay that breaks down a horror film that uses an expressionistic monster as a metaphor for complex human emotions: here’s Hollinger on The Babadook
- Here’s Hollinger on “Why Ghost Stories Was The Best Horror of 2018“
- Here’s Holness is in discussion with Comma Press’ Andy Murray on why he began writing short horror fiction and how he adapted his short story into a feature film