Mind-bending Horror Thriller Takes You To Your Darkest Past

By Robert Scucci | Published

Horror films typically play into our fears of the unknown, or even worse, feature a known assailant who is out to harm its subjects. 2018’s Possum had something else in mind, and uses its protagonist’s past trauma as its primary vehicle for getting under your skin and making you question your own life when you decide to stream it at three in the morning against your better judgment.

Though this British psychological horror film was only released across five theaters in the US, it’s truly the stuff of nightmares and perfect for home viewing so long as you make your loved ones leave the room before hitting ‘play.’

Possum Will Haunt You For Quite Some Time

Possum is an incredibly claustrophobic film that plays into Freud’s theories of the uncanny. Within its tight 85-minute runtime, you’re taken on a journey through the dark recesses of a troubled man’s imagination, and into his cathartic psychological regression that will haunt you for weeks after viewing the film.

The protagonist in Possum is a disgraced and mentally unstable children’s puppeteer named Phillip. He returns to his childhood home after an incident that his uncle Maurice never fully explained but often alluded to.

Inside Phillip’s leather duffel bag resides the most horrifying thing you’ve ever seen: a massive spider-like marionette named Possum with a disturbingly realistic human face. As Phillip gets settled into his new living situation, he stumbles upon a long-forgotten rhyming picture book about the titular puppet that he wrote as a child.

The Possum Hunts Children

The picture book about Possum is filled with charcoal illustrations that will make you want to tape your eyes shut, and its narrative tells an equally upsetting story about how Possum preys on unsuspecting children while they’re sleeping. Phillip desperately wants to get rid of the meddling marionette, but his many attempts prove to be unsuccessful as Possum always ends up back in his possession, unharmed.

Meanwhile, news reports about a missing child named Michael start making their rounds, pointing to Phillip as the primary person of interest in his disappearance. Maurice taunts Phillip and makes several references to the missing kid, suggesting that something similar happened to a young boy years ago. These troubling conversations in Possum often take place after Phillip walks by a closed door in the run-down, fire-damaged house but refuses to enter.

Phillip’s Unraveling

Phillip’s unraveling is a visceral visual experience because he often wakes up to Possum hovering over him while he’s sleeping. The flat, expressionless human face affixed to the top of the spider has a piercing gaze that unlocks his repressed memories of an abusive childhood at the hands of his uncle. As the film progresses, it’s not quite clear what Phillip is actually experiencing in the flesh versus what he’s imagining as his mental state continues to deteriorate.

Too Distubring For Theaters

Though Possum had a very limited theatrical run, it wasn’t without accolades. In fact, it won three Brooklyn Horror Film Festival awards, and made its way onto many lists that consider it to be one of the best horror movies to come out in recent years. Possum’s legacy is further cemented by its 90 percent critical score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Stream Possum On Tubi

Possum’s writer and director, Matthew Holness, went into the project with the intention of forcing his audience to reflect on the experience long after the closing credits roll. Nearly six years after its release, it’s safe to say that he executed his intentions flawlessly because you’ll either want to watch it again to unpack its myriad psychological layers, or never fall asleep again.

If you’re brave enough, you can stream Possum on Tubi while constantly and uncomfortably looking over your shoulder whenever you hear a bump in the night.