Cinema Quarantino is an ongoing series of alternative streaming picks for the self-quarantined and the socially distanced, as selected by the film staff of Boston Hassle. To browse the rest of our picks, click here.
The Film: Possum (2018) dir. Matthew Holness
The Streamer: Amazon Prime
Elevated horror is a descriptor that has been loosely thrown around for the past 10 years (or for however long A24 has been around for), a fancy piece of terminology horror dweebs, like me, adopted to sound cool. In actuality, while it sounds pretentious, it usually just means a horror movie that is less about the scares and more about the story. So while we’re all quarantined, let’s take a look at one of the most underrated “elevated” horror flick of recent memory: 2018’s Possum.
Possum is a film that on paper looks like a typical creature feature (what with the haunting poster of what you’d assume is a giant spider), but is anything but. In reality, Possum is a film that deals with themes of child abuse and the lack of therapeutic relief that leads our character down a dark path. In Possum, we follow disgraced puppeteer Philip (played brilliantly by Sean Harris) as he returns to his childhood home, only to be confronted by the uncle who dealt an unseen amount of abuse onto him when he was younger. While fighting his own demons, Philip is constantly haunted by a spider-like puppet named Possum.
Like other horror films of our time, Possum deconstructs trauma in ways that are both heartbreaking and utterly terrifying. Looking at an individual who never got the help he needed, Possum visualizes Philip’s abuse as a shit-yourself-inducing, spider-like puppet. With a set of long limbs all connected to a pale, dead face, it is abuse incarnated. Symbolizing a man truly on the edge of insanity, director/writer Matthew Holness allows Philip’s own abuse to become visualized for us to see, much like what Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook did for depression a few years beforehand.
With such an eye for visuals, Holness envisions the world of Possum as a dark, dreary, and absolutely smothering wasteland. The childhood home Philip moves back into is dilapidated and morose, mainly due to his need to confront the hand of his abuser who still lives there (a horrifying performance by Alun Armstrong that is terrifying to watch). It doesn’t help when the whole film is draped in the dreariness of cold and rainy England. To add to the claustrophobia, Possum is in essence a bottle film, with only a few other roles than the main two. Talk about a pleasant experience!
So if you couldn’t tell already, Possum is a not a comedy! Yet don’t let that deter you from a quarantine viewing; at a brisk 85 minutes, Possum is a quick flick to throw on. Hell, even make it a double feature with the previously mentioned Babadook! Whether that’s a horrible way to escape reality or not is up to the eye of the beholder, but my depressed ass would do this double feature any day.
dir. Matthew Holness
Now streaming on Amazon Prime
Streaming is no substitute for taking in a screening at a locally owned cinema, and right now Boston’s most beloved theaters need your help to survive. If you have the means, the Hassle strongly recommends making a donation, purchasing a gift card, or becoming a member at the Brattle Theatre, Coolidge Corner Theatre, and/or the Somerville Theatre. Keep film alive, y’all.