PUP­PET MAS­TER

POs­sum i Matthew Hol­ness vis­its a very Dark­place…

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You pick what fright­ens you,” rea­sons Matthew Hol­ness, writer-di­rec­tor of Pos­sum. One of the creepi­est films you’ll see this year, it be­gan life as a short story for an an­thol­ogy re­flect­ing on Sig­mund Freud’s the­ory of the un­canny. “They asked all the writ­ers to pick some of what Freud high­lighted as uni­ver­sal hu­man fears.”

So what did Hol­ness do? Choose dum­mies and spi­ders in this tale of Philip (Sean Har­ris), a dis­graced pup­peteer who re­turns to his Nor­folk child­hood home to face his demons. That’s two ma­jor fears for the price of one. “I don’t like spi­ders – I find them creepy and the way they move is very un­pleas­ant,” he says. And dum­mies? “I’ve al­ways found those fright­en­ing.”

An­other el­e­ment li­able to make view­ers un­easy is his lead­ing man, re­cently back as

the vil­lain in Mis­sion: Im­pos­si­ble – Fall­out, go­ing full-on weirdo. “Sean is great at play­ing char­ac­ters you don’t nec­es­sar­ily like ini­tially. And you cer­tainly don’t know what they’re about. He’s bril­liant at in­hab­it­ing char­ac­ters that a lot of other peo­ple would baulk at.”

In­spired by black-and-white silent Ger­man ex­pres­sion­ist films M and Nos­fer­atu, Pos­sum is the flip­side to Hol­ness’ most fa­mous work, 2004 cult sit­com Garth Marenghi’s Dark­place, in which he played the tit­u­lar hor­ror au­thor. It’s yet an­other ex­am­ple of how steeped he is in the genre. “The thing I liked most about do­ing Dark­place was cre­at­ing the nar­ra­tives Garth was cre­at­ing.”

While there was a spin-off with co-star/cre­ator Richard Ayoade’s char­ac­ter – Man To Man With Dean Learner –a Garth fea­ture never got off the ground. “Richard and I wrote a script, but in all hon­esty it wasn’t very good. We’d writ­ten our best stuff by that point!” Maybe Hol­ness could slip into Marenghi mode one more time to present a Q&A for Pos­sum? “I think the days of Garth are long gone.”

Sean Har­ris as a pup­peteer fac­ing his past.

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