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The Possession of Michael King
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 8/26/2014
All Ratings out of
Extras: No Extras
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 8/23/2014
Are horror movies sexist? Wait, don't answer that. Instead, let's ask, are women the victim more often in horror films than men? That question has been explored in critical books like "Men, Women, and Chainsaws" by Carol J. Clover and "Games of Terror" by Vera Dika. When we examine horror movies about demonic possession, there does seem to be a disparity. The Exorcist, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, The Last Exorcism, even foreign rip-offs like Beyond the Door all feature females who are overtaken by a demon. Sure we've seen males get possessed, especially in the Evil Dead films, but one has to question why it's usually women. So, from the title of the film The Possession of Michael King we immediately know that the tables have been turned.
Following the death of his wife (Cara Pifko), Michael King (Shane Johnson) decides to go on a journey of spiritual discovery. A non-believer, he wants to know if the supernatural and life-after-death are real. He decides to rig his house with multiple cameras and document his research. After asking questions as to why no one every talks about conjuring angels, Michael visits an odd couple who are into the occult and a mortician who claims that he knows how to summon souls. Following these events, Michael begins to feel very strange. There is a constantly humming in his ears and he can't sleep. Also, he notices that there black ants all over the house. When Michael does doze off, he awakens to find that bad things have happened. Fearing that he may be putting his daughter (Ella Anderson) and his sister (Julie McNiven) in danger, Michael begins to look for an answer as to what is happening to him and to see if there is a way to stop it.
If you could, would you go back in time and warn the makers of The Blair Witch Project that with their "found footage" project they would be creating a phenomenon which seemingly has no end? (For the purposes of this review, we'll ignore the fact that the concept was hardly original when Blair Witch ran with it.) Fifteen years later and we're still getting "found footage" horror movies and it's safe to assume that as digital video recording technology becomes more affordable and compact, this trend will continue. Progressions in technology is great, but what we really need to see if a leap forward in storytelling. A lot of these movies (and I mean A LOT) have a kernel of an idea, and that's about it. Having a camera and some friends who are willing to act goofy does not mean that you should make a movie.
This is why The Possession of Michael King should be commended for at least bringing an intriguing idea to the table and attempting to do something slightly different. As noted above, having a male encounter demonic possession is apparently a rarity, so based on that simple fact, the movie is doing something different. At the outset, Michael tells us that he's making a documentary, so he rigs his house with cameras and he has a friend document various visits to so-called "experts". Michael also wears a small camera around his neck. This approach allows us to see everything which is happening without the annoying "Why would they be filming that?" thought which accompanies so many movies i this sub-genre. (Although, unless I missed it, we are never told how Michael can afford all of this.) As for the film's premise, I like the notion that Michael's crisis of faith leads him on this journey and that he wants to go to the extreme of conjuring a demon. The movie also gets points for immediately addressing the idea of summoning forth an angel, and why this isn't done.
Writer/Director David Jung is able to create some creepy moments here, specifically one in which Michael sees a shadowy figure in his house. There are some nicely-timed jump scares and the idea of a mortician who is obsessed with the occult is certainly twisted. The problem with The Possession of Michael King is that once all of this is set-up and chugging along nicely, Jung has no idea what to do with it. The movie begins as an investigative journalism piece, turns into a sort of mystery as we wonder what will happen to Michael and then the last act is more or less a straight-ahead horror movie. Sure, this offers some action, but it also feels very pedestrian when compared to the first half of the film. I won't give anything away here, but we see some murders and a lot of running around and screaming, but it doesn't amount to much. It's not a complete disaster, but it certainly leaves the viewer feeling disappointed. Again, kudos to The Possession of Michael King for trying something a little different, but I feel that it caved to convention in the end.
The Possession of Michael King must have had a heck of an ant wrangler on set on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 31 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain or defects from the source materials, save for those inserted for effect. The HD image is quite stable and shows a nice amount of detail and depth. The colors look good, and save for the scene where Michael is stalking on the streets, the image is never overly dark. The Disc carries a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 1.8 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The subwoofer effects work quite well to drive home the jump scare moments. We also get nice surround sound effects, especially those which highlight the voices which Michael hears. The stereo effects show good separation.
The Possession of Michael King Blu-ray Disc contains no extra features.
Review Copyright 2014 by Mike Long