Philip (Sean Harris) is a middle-aged man returning to his hometown in Norfolk with a population of probably ten people, which looks like a depressing place to live in. With him he’s got a brown bag containing a puppet called Possum. A terrifying thing with a human head made of rubber, and with spider feet. Philip turns out to be a totally fragile, traumatized man, trapped in a severe life crisis, who constantly seems be on the verge of blowing out in full panic attack at any moment. And the nightmare fuel provided by Possum clearly doesn’t makes it any better. Time to watch some cat videos on YouTube, I would say. Anyway, he goes to his decayed, filthy childhood home where he meets his stepfather Maurice (Alun Armstrong), a greasy old man who probably hasn’t taken a shower in years, and likes to preach stuff that doesn’t make much sense. They turn out to have as much of a resentful relationship with each other as Philip has with Possum, which he repeatedly tries to get rid of by dumping it in the river, burying, burning, and beat the shit out of it to a point where you almost feel more sorry for the puppet than for Philip. But just like a cursed Ouija board, Possum always reappears.
If you expect a traditional creature-feature here, you can just give up right away. This is a really slow melancholic and feverish nightmare, stuffed with metaphors, cryptic symbolism, and open to being analyzed to death and beyond. Is Possum some sort of a manifestation of Philip’s untreated trauma, or is the guy just crazy? Is the pale, empty, decaying surroundings a reflection of the eternal hopelessness that constantly consumes his head? Who knows. Several scenes seem to last forever without going nowhere, but competent camera work, strong wide-shot visuals and good acting saved the movie, for my part at least. So yeah, a strange little indie film that can be a chore to sit through for sure, and fans of art-house will probably find it more appealing.
Director: Matthew Holness
Country & year: UK, 2018
Actors: Sean Harris, Alun Armstrong, Simon Bubb, Andy Blithe