I normally don’t post about a film I haven’t yet seen but I’m saving Possum until the holidays are here—I gotta have something fun to watch—so allow me to concentrate on the film’s remarkable soundtrack. That I have heard, and if the film it accompanies is half as good (or even a quarter as creepy) it’s gonna make for the perfect Christmas day horror movie.
Possum, by the way, tells “the story of a disgraced children’s puppeteer who returns to his childhood home and is forced to confront his wicked stepfather and the secrets that have tortured him his entire life.” The film is the directorial debut of Matthew Holness, who American audiences will know as the star and co-creator/writer of the classic British TV cult comedy Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace. (Along with Holness’ hilarious portrayal of self-absorbed/delusional sci-fi and horror writer Marenghi—“author, dream weaver, visionary, plus actor”—this show also marked the breakout roles for Richard Ayoade, Matt Berry and Alice Lowe.) The film is an adaption of Holness’ short story of the same title.
The original score for Possum was created by the recently revived Radiophonic Workshop, the pioneering BBC electronic sound laboratory responsible for the Doctor Who theme and the sound effects for a host of radio and television programs over the past sixty years. You would think that at least once during their long association that the Radiophonic Workshop would have scored at least one feature film for theatrical release, or collaborated on a major score for something together, but this has not been the case. Until now. And what a fascinating and major piece it is, reminding the listener of Ennio Morricone’s anxiety-ridden giallo scores and the darkest soundscapes of Coil.
Holness and the film’s editor Tommy Boulding had used sound cues from the Radiophonic Workshop in their rough cut and approached the newly reformed group about using their archival work in the film. To their delight the Radiophonic Workshop offered to do an original score.
And if all that wasn’t enough to pique your interest—and it should have been—the Possum soundtrack features sound elements and drones taken from the archives of Delia Derbyshire who famously created the original Doctor Who theme. These elements were discovered in boxes of tapes stored in the late composer’s attic, have been restored and were used in the foundations of the film’s scary/tense soundtrack and sound design.
The Radiophonic Workshop rank the Possum score amongst the most significant work of their career:
“The unearthly sounds of this form of radiophonic music are well-suited to atmospheres of paranoia, fear and haunting. In the best tradition of horror and suspense, this soundtrack adds to the extraordinarily claustrophobic atmosphere between the two central characters with dark scampering and threatening moans.”
Possum premiered at the Edinburgh International Film Festival on June 25, 2018 and in the US at the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival on October 12, 2018. Possum is available on Pay Per View and via Amazon Prime. The film stars Sean Harris and Alun Armstrong.
Listen to the entire ‘Possum’ soundtrack on Spotify:
The ‘Possum’ trailer
An exclusive scene from the film for Dangerous Minds readers