You’d expect a bit of oddness from the feature directing debut of Matthew Holness, the co-writer and star of horror parody series ‘Garth Marenghi’s Dark Place’. And oddness ye shall find. ‘Possum’ is a very different beast to ‘Dark Place’ – it’s tongue is nowhere near its cheek – and it shows that he can make something seriously unsettling without the relief of laughter.
Sean Harris plays Philip, a lonely, troubled middle-aged man. Everyone regards him with suspicion, particularly when a boy goes missing. The one person who can bear his company is his only relative, Maurice (Alun Armstrong), a yellow-toothed, taunting creep. As he wanders his bleak life, Philip carries a bag containing something he calls ‘the Possum’, a terrifying puppet that we first see as shadowy spider legs, before it reveals its full nightmarish being. He wants rid of the Possum but it won’t be abandoned.
It’s a quiet storm of a performance from Harris. He spends most of the film alone and we’re not often let into Philip’s mind with words, but through Harris’s face. He conveys a man who’s trying to escape a past that keeps chasing him down. Holness firmly captures the feel of ’70s British horror – the oppressive, close atmosphere is so powerful you can almost smell the damp. It’s a new kind of dark place for Holness. One that lets absolutely no light in.