Possum

The new movie by the guy that did Garth Merenghi. It’s an almost entirely dialogueless psychological horror.

The main character is a haunted house of a man, who himself haunts the decaying urban landscape of this nothing English town, surrounded by ever-encroaching scrub brush, marshland and woodland, pushing to reclaim it to purposelessness. He carries with him a puppet in a brown leather bag. It is an invincible psychological construct meant to carry him through some past unspoken trauma, which he is now trying to outgrow as he tries to stand up to his past. But both the trauma and the puppet will not stay buried.

The title refers to the name of the puppet, and also the act of ‘playing possum’, pretending to be dead to avoid danger, which is very much what the main character has done emotionally as a coping strategy.

Reminiscent of silent horror films, but also I thought it had a touch of David Lynch, where a character is allowed to simply walk for the duration of scene, allowed the time to convey their entire psychological journey just in their pace, their gait, their stance, the tension of their muscles.

It is a film about the often obscured secondary effects of trauma, the lasting stuff that must be lived with long after the event has passed. For the main character, the abuse has never really ended, because it continues to keep him silent, it continues to keep him invisible, it continues to keep him isolated and it continues to cause him shame and suffering. And it also inflicts upon him the unjust sense of responsibility and complicitness that the silence that he carries may have enabled his abuser to be unhindered in gathering more victims.

The character has no language for this and his only outlet is this vessel he’s made out an image of his own face attached to a set of spider legs. It is the archetypal smothering hand and his own in ability to express or speak.

If I had one criticism of this film, I would say it could lose 20-30 minutes and still be a great film. At some point you are just like, I get the imagery of the black balloons, move on. But it is actually really refreshing to watch a film that is just one act, largely lacking in dramatic event and dialogue, just become a whirlpool soup of one man’s psychological nightmare.