THE PUP­PET MAS­TER

Garth MarenGhi cre­ator Matthew hol­ness on duM­Mies, dou­bles and dark places in his de­but hor­ror fea­ture Pos­sum

SFX - - The Haunting Of Hill House -

Can you spy him deep within? Lit­tLe pos­sum. Black as sin.” that’s a line from the creepy poem that runs through Pos­sum, the deeply dis­turb­ing hor­ror de­but from Garth Marenghi’s Dark­place cre­ator matthew hol­ness. the film be­gan life as a short story, when hol­ness was asked to con­trib­ute to an an­thol­ogy called The New Un­canny. as the writer/ di­rec­tor ex­plains, “they were ask­ing var­i­ous writ­ers to look at Freud’s the­ory of the un­canny and rein­ter­pret some of these ba­sic hu­man fears for a mod­ern au­di­ence. so i picked the fear of dum­mies and the fear of dou­bles. i liked the idea of com­bin­ing two of them.”

the film stars sean har­ris as philip, a dis­graced chil­dren’s pup­peteer haunted by the pres­ence of his ter­ri­fy­ing pup­pet, a mon­strous creation with giant spi­der legs and a ver­sion of his own face. “the idea of a pup­peteer mak­ing a pup­pet that was a com­plete dou­ble of them­selves was fright­en­ing in a dif­fer­ent kind of way,” says hol­ness, “be­cause so many of the ven­tril­o­quist dummy sto­ries, they’re of­ten a creepy-look­ing pup­pet, but they don’t re­ally re­sem­ble the pup­peteer. other ven­tril­o­quist pup­pet films, they have a psy­cho­log­i­cal break­down at the very end of the story and i thought it would be in­ter­est­ing to start my story where they’re al­ready bro­ken down.”

hol­ness is jus­ti­fi­ably proud of his pup­pet mon­stros­ity. he elab­o­rates on its creation: “i’d read about the Hal­loween thing, where you put a blank face there and the au­di­ence will bring their own sub­con­scious fears to it. and i think that re­ally works in this case, be­cause [de­signer do­minic hail­stone] sculpted a ver­sion of sean’s head which wasn’t re­ally do­ing any­thing and sud­denly we were like, yeah, this is very, very creepy. Be­cause you can’t tell why it’s be­ing creepy, it’s not do­ing any­thing, so you’re forc­ing your­self to won­der why, what’s its ex­pres­sion, and that’s when it be­came a very fright­en­ing pup­pet for me.”

it’s fair to say that au­di­ences who are more fa­mil­iar with hol­ness’s com­edy back­ground re­ally won’t be ex­pect­ing Pos­sum. and that’s just fine with hol­ness: “i’d like to just make hor­ror films now, re­ally. in all hon­esty, i’ve got ab­so­lutely no in­ter­est in do­ing com­edy any­more. there are no rays of light in this film, there’s not a sin­gle joke, there’s no light in this very dark tun­nel.” in other words, hol­ness’s Pos­sum is the ul­ti­mate dark place. Be afraid.

Matthew Turner

Pos­sum is in cin­e­mas from 26 Oc­to­ber.

Vet­eran Bri­tish ac­tor Alun Arm­strong also stars.

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