In 1919 Sigmund Freud published an essay that delved deep into the tradition of horror writing and claimed to understand one of its darkest tricks. His aim: to present to the world a complete theory of ‘das unheimliche’, the uncanny. In the spirit of this great experiment, in 2008 Comma Press challenged 14 leading authors to write fresh fictional interpretations of what the uncanny might mean in the 21st Century. Matthew Holness chose to write story that investigated both the fear of doubles and the fear of dummies, looking at a traumatised puppeteer who has created a monstrous puppet in his own image – and so the horrifying POSSUM was born.
Several years after the book’s publication, Holness was investigating the idea of making a modern silent horror film, having been inspired after watching a host of German silent-era features and realised that his short-story POSSUM offered the perfect basis for this: a psychological story following an isolated character with little connection with the outer world – and so he began the process of develop it into a feature film. As is always the case the written word and moving image are different beasts – and similarly here the resulting film and its ‘monster’ have differences – but in both forms POSSUM is a uniquely fascinating and truly affecting story.
The New Uncanny is available now in print and ebook. Buy from: commapress.co.uk