M.L. Miller here! Welcome horror fans to my Annual countdown of the Best of the Best in Horror! Running every day through October, this list will culminate with the best horror film of the year announced on October 31st. Some of these films can be found in theaters—others have unfortunately only seen the light of day On Demand, DVD, BluRay, or digital download. I’ve tried to indicate in the reviews how you can watch and enjoy these films yourselves. I’ll also provide a “Worth Noting” secondary film suggestion in a separate post. These are films that stood out or just missed being on the list by a skosh—a little extra for those who can’t get enough horror.
How did I compile this list? I simply looked through films released between October 1st 2018 and September 30, 2019 and worked and reworked the list until I had the magic number, 31. This countdown is not for the elitists or festival goers, so if the film hasn’t been released to the masses, it won’t be on the list. Also anything released this October will most likely be on next year’s list—so sorry, no films like DOCTOR SLEEP or ZOMBIELAND 2 just yet.
I hope you’ll join me daily and don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!
Some horror films scare you with jumps and horrifying images. Others have crazy twists and turns. Still others are able to convey a mood and really place you in a space that is anything but comfortable. POSSUM falls into that last category. It’s a slow burner, but man does it grow to a boil by the end. Psychological horror to the extreme, POSSUM places you in the shoes of a madman and it’s not a pretty place to be in. Released on February 26, 2019, here’s my review of POSSUM! Available On Demand, digital download, & BluRay/DVD from Dark Sky Films!
Directed by Matthew Holness
Written by Matthew Holness
Starring Sean Harris, Alun Armstrong, Simon Bubb, Andy Blithe, Pamela Cook, Charlie Eales, Daniel Eghan, Ryan Enever, Raphel Famotibe, Joe Gallucci
POSSUM is a dreary, morose, and dread-laden descent into madness. It’s not as much of an exciting film, but it’s more of a film that envelops you and forces you to experience a singular, important emotion. While it is filled with nightmare fueled moments and shocking turns, it is most successful in putting the viewer into the shoes of a very troubled soul. The experience is utterly uncomfortable and makes this one of the most immersive dives into horror this year.
POSSUM stars Sean Harris as Philip, a man struggling with anxiety and immense guilt. He is paralyzed by horrors of his past, hesitantly leaving his home once there and plagued by nightmares and hallucinations from the beginning and likely, well before this film begins. Philip used to be a children’s puppeteer, but for reasons made apparent, he no longer can do this job—though he seems to long for those days. His neighbor is Maurice (Alun Armstrong) an elderly man barely taking care of himself and withholder of knowledge of Philip’s past transgressions. The longer Philip stays in his old home, the further into the realm of madness he slips. And we are there to witness this every step of the way.
Much like Peter Lorre’s turn as a haunted child abductor in M, Harris’ Philip is on the run from his own conscience from beginning to end of POSSUM. Harris is amazing here as a person who has definitely done horrible things, but still makes you feel for him. Part of it is because Harris is such a powerful actor, but also because there really is no one else in this film to feel for (that is, anyone who is alive). POSSUM forces you to look at a person most of society has deemed an outcast and not worth your time.
The film intentionally keeps things vague. Did Philip commit child abduction? Murder? Sexual abuse? All three? Was Philip the perpetrator or the victim here? Or was he framed for the whole thing? Is it his own guilty conscience making all of this up? This is the mind-fuck POSSUM puts the viewer through. It takes the most heinous of crimes and forces us to wallow in it. Some answers are provided, but little is revealed about the initial crime, forcing us to fill in the blanks solely with the information this paranoid and guilt-ridden man provides us through his jittery and frantic action.
There are some absolutely mortifying images here, most involving the Possum puppet Philip keeps hidden most of the time in a bag in his room. It basically looks like a head with spider legs and seeing it move made my spine tingle and hair stand on end. It’s an amazing design that steals from some of the darkest nightmares. This effect is made more horrifying due to Harris’ amazing reactions to it creeping in the corners and scuttling along hallways. This is a movie monster that truly delivers, even after it is revealed completely.
POSSUM is an intense and harrowing dissection of guilt. Much like JOKER, it is a riveting character study of a deeply flawed individual. Yes, it highlights a person who has done horrible things, but it effectively transfers the viewer into that person’s predicament, forcing them to experience the horrors the character does. POSSUM is the stuff of true horror as it will ultimately unnerve you in ways that will most likely make for an uncomfortable experience. This is not an action-packed film. It’s a slow creeping character study that doesn’t glorify the heinous actions of the lead, but unflinchingly bares it all to you in a way that will hit your soul. Still, it is deftly directed, ultimately atmospheric, and masterfully acted across the board. There is no way you can walk away from POSSUM unaffected.
THE COUNTDOWN SO FAR…
#8 – POSSUM
M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.
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