This is a drab, depressing, and sometimes terrifying little film.
A very strange man with a bag that contains a bizarre object is returning to his childhood home. He is quiet and withdrawn and bears all the marks of someone who has been institutionalized for a long period of time. He has an odd, queasy interaction with a group of adolescent boys on the train, one in particular, that will come back to haunt him later. When he arrives home, he finds it run down, in decrepit disrepair. Most of the movie he spends walking around various locations, all of them dank and dark and desolate, with lots of rusting junk and abandoned buildings. He carries this bag with him and we later learn that it contains a puppet (he calls it “Possum”) he made when he was a child. This puppet is based on something from his childhood and is basically the creepy face of a man sitting on several pairs of spider legs. It is morbid and unnerving, to say the least, and the man keeps trying to get rid of it but it keeps returning to him. He stuffs it into a barrel, he drowns it in a creek, and he burns it, but it always comes back. Along the way, we meet his uncle, an extremely nasty man who helped raise/torment him as a child. This guy is not good news, and one of the ugliest souls you’ll ever meet in a film. In the end, a missing child (the one from the train), our protagonist, and the uncle all have a sort of showdown as the revelations come cascading like dank, poisoned rain.
So this is the kind of horror film that you will either love or find dreadfully boring. There’s lots of walking around, lots of low-talking, lots of emoting, and tons of atmosphere. It is creepy as hell in some part and there’s a jump scare at the end that totally had me coming out of my seat. However, it does drag, even if you’re into this sort of thing, so there is that caveat. Where you land on the spectrum of slow-burn horror will probably determine how you feel about this film. I was never bored but I also found my mind wondering at times. There were always moments that dragged me back into this desolate little film, and those moments was well-worth wading through to get to them.
The design of the Possum is genius. There is not a chance of you not finding it creepy and revolting. The face reminded me in some ways of the face of Belial in Basket Case, in its rubbery otherworldliness. Think of the Norris creature from The Thing, only bigger, with a blank white face reminiscent of the Prometheus alien, combined with the deranged, staring madness of Belial. That kind of comes close to describing it. The various scenes of it just sitting and glaring at the protagonist are unnerving enough on their own, but when it starts to move…
If you’re a patient viewer, and you can get into the desolate, British vibe of this film, you will absolutely love it. This is a dark, dark film, however, with hints of incest and molestation, so there’s that to consider, as well. Probably like me, you’ll feel like you need a bath after watching it, and rare are the films that can put that level of depravity on a person.
Recommended for those who love nihilistic films, soul-destroying films. Make it four stars if you love this kind of movie.
Three out of Four Stars.
Possum is available on AmazonPrime