The Possession of Michael King Review

Posted: August 16, 2014 in Horror, Reviews
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The Possession of Michael KingThis is what horror for grown ups looks like.

The Possession of Michael King is a terrifying tale well told with solid performances throughout the cast, a smart script, and technical wizardry that all combine to deliver a story with an escalating sense of nihilism and dread, more than enough jolts of terror, a smattering of gore, and a taste of real taboo. In short, this flick has all the ingredients necessary for a superior scary movie. In his first feature film, director/screenwriter David Jung announces himself as a force within the genre and gives horror fans an unexpected and genuine treat.

The Possession of Michael King is a dark fantasy of the dangers of hubris. The title character (expertly performed by Shane Johnson) has lost his wife, Sam, to a tragic accident, leaving him as a single parent for their young daughter. Michael channels his grief and anger into an attack on the occult, believing that his wife’s superstitions contributed to her death. He sets out on a mission to document his debunking of mediums, necromancers, and demonologists by recording his visits to these supposed charlatans with a cameraman, while turning his house into a film studio and even wearing a necklace camera/microphone. Yes, it’s another found footage film (Michael King even stares into a mirror and says that he hopes the footage is found one day), but one that works well. A particular reason for the success is cinematographer Phil Parmet whose resume boasts of experience in both documentary and horror films. The two distinct approaches are blended beautifully here.

The moral of the story is, “Be nice to the people you meet on the way down to Hell as they’re the same people you’ll meet as you try to get back up.” Michael’s encounters with the collection of oddballs making a living selling access to the Dark Side are cinematic gems. Casting director Eyde Belasco deserves the full measure of credit for assembling such a talented supporting cast with Cullen Douglas providing a special delight as the creepiest mortician in the world.

But make no mistake – the bravura performance here is turned in by Shane Johnson. Michael King is reminiscent of Jack Torrance from The Shining (as Stephen King wrote the character, not as Jack Nicholson hammily played him). Michael is a good man, whose losing battle with personal demons leaves him susceptible to real ones. His descent is steep; the collateral damage devastating. As he loses his touchstones, first his project collaborator and then his family, Michael is left with his madness, chillingly revealed in scenes with images that are difficult to shake – one involving a solitary ant, another a television screen covered with the words “WATCH ME” written in blood.

The film falters slightly in the third act, settling for a return to familiar territory rather than a continued push into new frontiers. Viewers may carry heightened expectations into the final scenes that are not fulfilled. One more jolt, one more twist would have been in order. Such niggling is somewhat ungrateful given the gift David Jung has bestowed. The Possession of Michael King is legitimate hard R-rated horror that terrifies in the most delightful way.

Three and a half stars.



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