Quick: what is the first demonic possession movie you can think of? For most people, I’m assuming it is The Exorcist. For you, maybe it was The Last Exorcism, The Conjuring, Paranormal Activity, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, even Demons or [REC] 2—the list is endless. Regardless of the film you picked, odds are pretty high that the person possessed was a female. For me, The Possession of Michael King was the first demonic possession flick I had ever seen that was centrally focused on an adult male being possessed.
Okay, please don’t angrily tweet me and say “What about Ash in the Evil Dead movies?! What about Jack in The Shining?! Um, you’re forgetting Amityville Horror!” etc. etc. I know about those dudes; I didn’t forget about them. I’m talking about straight-up, bust-out-dat-holy-water, jet-black-eyeball, THE-POWER-OF-CHRIST-COMPELS-YOU-type possessions.
The Possession of Michael King is already different from a lot of demonic possession movies from the very moment you read the title. At least, that’s certainly the first impression I had. It is about Michael King, an atheist who (no shit) gets possessed by a demon after his young wife tragically passes away. Furious about her untimely death, he begins shooting a documentary as he tries to invoke the wrath of either God or the devil by delving into the black arts. His goal is to prove that God and the devil are not real, but, as you miiiiight have guessed, it doesn’t really turn out super well for him.
The movie starts out very strongly—quick pace with lots of creepy little tension-building moments that I don’t want to give away. You can instantly sympathize with Michael because he is a handsome young widower with an adorable daughter. You can’t help but feel for him, and understand his anger. The suspense is built beautifully. I hate to sound so cheesy but there are some moments where the hair on my neck stood up. There were also moments where I was literally yelling at the screen “Oh hellllllll no no no nope nope no nooooo!” (Most of those moments were in a scene with a mortician/undertaker-turned-necromancer. It gets so weird!!). But the last third of the movie is strangely limp compared to the first two thirds. Part of that, I suppose, is because a movie (99% of the time) is much more scary before you see the monster. Part of that is because when shit is supposed to really be going down, it’s underwhelming. Not horribly underwhelming, still definitely solid, but not as amazing as the first part of the movie had let me hope for.
One of the things I really liked about The Possession of Michael King was the way the found footage parts of the film were integrated. I personally do not mind found footage. (If you hate found footage, I have your new favorite shirt!) I can take or leave found footage—it’s all about the execution for me. Because The Possession of Michael King is about a man making his own documentary, of course it’s gotta have some found footage in it. But there is a really great balance between the found footage elements and the regular film elements. It’s a great middle ground; people who like found footage will be cool with it, as will the vehement found footage haters. Really well done.
Overall, The Possession of Michael King is a rad spin on a supernatural classic. It does peter out towards the end, but the ride is still worth taking. There are some great twists on cult standards that elevate this flick above some of the drivel that is now permeating this subgenre. I enjoyed it and I definitely can see myself re-watching this one with a group of friends.
If you’re a fan of possession movies you’ll dig this one for sure. Even if you’re not a fan of possession movies, watch it anyway. I want the fine folks behind this one to keep making films.
Oh, one more quick note. I just moved in to a new apartment and when I was watching The Possession of Michael King, my bedroom door creaked open. I live alone. The air conditioning was off. My door was shut before that. REALLY! NO JOKE. It scared the living bejesus out of me. So, David Jung, if your movie opened up the world’s least scary portal to hell in a quiet apartment complex in Encino, there will be hell to pay!
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