Can you spy him deep within? Little Possum, black as sin. Bag is open, growing wider. What's inside it, man or spider? Little boy, don't lose your way. Possum wants to come and play.
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Garth Merenghi's Dullplace
Possum is a (very) slight yarn about shamed puppeteer Richie (Sean Harris) returning to the decaying home of his childhood. Richie spends his days wandering an undisclosed part of Norfolk ( population 10?) to the accompaniment of a Radiophonic Workshop soundtrack. There's a child abduction case lurking in the shadows too. Could Richie be involved, and what is that ghastly apparition nesting in the bowels of his bag?
Yeah, on paper, this one sounded like it'd be right up my street. So its with heavy heart I regret to inform you that Holness' debut in the writer/director chair is a major disappointment.
Based on a self-penned short story (and showing every inch of it) Holness' painfully derivative Lynchian pseudo art-horror would have been rightly rejected before a frame had been shot had his name not been attached to it.
However, it's less Eraserhead and more Frank Henenlotter's Basketcase gatecrashing David Cronenberg's Spider without the wit & intrigue of any of them. Surprise & suspense evaporate within the first 20 minutes and it spends the rest of its time hitting the same dull beat until the non-too-shocking anti-climactic reveal.
I do appreciate the repetitive nature of the narrative is intentional and is absolutely fundamental to the vivid picture it attempts to paint of a nightmare in a damaged brain. But the lack of variation in tone and design (not to mention locations) make for a very ugly and oppressive viewing experience, and not in the way it's creator would hope.
The performances are unconvincing too: Alun Armstrong as Richie's seedy Uncle Maurice, devours the scenery amateur-dramatics Bill Sykes style, whilst Harris (an actor I've irrationally had it in for since his rancid space-crusty turn in Prometheus) goes full method with one-note, misery-guts mug and mannered mannequin body contortions. And true to Lynch-clone fashion, he does it decked out in a gormless-looking, buttoned to the neck grey shirt.
Its ironic then that, the only positive thing to say about him (and Possum as a whole) is the major contribution he makes to the creepy-crawly thing you can see on the poster. The arachnid is sublime, and the only thing you'll remember long after you've forgotten the film.
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