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Playing Possum: Matthew Holness's Other Dark Places
Mat Colegate , October 26th, 2018 09:46

Mat Colegate interviews Matthew Holness about his film debut Possum, out this weekend. Learn about how Holness was introduced to the world of horror fiction, the funniness of failure, and then click through to hear Holness talk about his favourite examples of the genre


Charlotte Perkins Gilman – The Yellow Wallpaper
A really fantastic short story, really frightening. I love it simply because it tackles the topic of psychology and mental illness and puts it in such a brilliant way. It's a very moving story as well as being a frightening one. I think it's one of the greatest short stories ever written.

Mental illness obviously being one of the central themes of Possum. What kind of difficulties does portraying a mentally ill character throw up?

Obviously you have to handle it as sensitively as you can. But I think the stories that I've always been drawn to and the fiction that I've always been drawn to is the stuff that has that psychological element to it. Whilst I love HP Lovecraft and things like that, the stories that really unnerve me are the ones that actually are rooted very much in people and the everyday – emotional states and perceptions of reality, those kinds of things. Monsters and the outside, yes, they can be frightening, but I think what's really frightening is how someone can destroy themselves by not having a proper grasp on their own mind and their own fears.

It's letting one's own fears run away with themselves that I think is the most frightening thing and creates really unnerving fiction. Something like Possum, particularly in the way it's been filmed, you're seeing the reality through him. This also applied to the short story, it was an unreliable narrator. Someone who's having a break down but you don't know if what they're telling you is the truth. You're only getting reality as they see it. It's an interesting way of telling a horror story because it's about creating that world that that person is seeing and letting it bleed out into your world and draw you in.