Possession of Michael King, The (2014)


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Starring Shane Johnson, Ella Anderson, Cara Pifko

Directed by David Jung

Possession movies are a tough nut to crack. As a filmmaker creating a possession film, you have to know that you’ll be compared to The Exorcist and no movie has been able to stand up to the horrific power of that one. What we’ve been seeing more recently are possession films taking a bit of a different angle, like the courtroom aspect in The Possession of Emily Rose or the con man pastor in The Last Exorcism. We see that same trend here in The Possession of Michael King.

When we meet Michael King, we find that he’s a single father who recently lost his wife to an accident. He has no religious beliefs and, as a documentary filmmaker, decides to make a movie about his attempts to find proof of the supernatural. He posts an ad online describing his project and finds all sorts of people willing to help him out. Using his own body as the testing ground, Michael subjects himself to a number of black ceremonies in an attempt to conjure something from the other side. And something works.

The film follows Michael as he begins to realize what has happened to him and the extreme nature of his predicament…and then his attempts to undo what he’s done to himself and his family. As you would expect, things spiral incredibly out of control and Michael finds himself in a struggle his previous non-believing persona never would have envisioned possible.

David Jung directed this film, which he co-wrote with Tedi Sarafian, and he made this indie look large. From the intriguing story that pulls you in and drags you along to the impressive F/X that decorate the tale, Jung does a fantastic job in bringing the struggles of Michael King to life.

The huge strength of the film is that of Shane Johnson in the titular role of Michael King. As he is the central character and dominates the screen time, his performance is crucial. And Johnson delivers. He plays an impressive range from loving husband and nurturing father to demon-stricken possession victim. And he does this with the help of very little make-up F/X for the most part. Don’t get me wrong, The Possession of Michael King certainly gives you plenty of gory red stuff to look at, but in Johnson’s portrayal of King, very little is used. Instead Johnson relies on creepy facial expressions and unorthodox bodily movements to convey his predicament. A job well done.

And overall, the damn thing is scary. There is quite a bit of creativity that goes into freaking out the audience in The Possession of Michael King as well. Yes, it is a found footage movie and those are becoming a bit tedious, but when a little extra effort goes into them the found footage movies can still strike a chord. A couple of well-timed, unique jump scares are highly effective and the early scenes where King is going through the rituals are pretty intense, and one of them really gets crazy. While the demon digs deeper into King’s persona he becomes a nightmarish character who becomes quite effective at making the audience’s toes curl.

David Jung has put together an entertaining film that will definitely keep you sucked in. Michael King is a great character that goes from smug non-believer to tortured spirit but even as he becomes the antagonist, the audience still feels for him as you know he’s fighting for his life and his soul inside. An intriguingly different approach to possession films that’s definitely worth a look.

2 out of 5

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