Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 23 minutes
MPAA Rating: R for Disturbing and Violent Content, Language, some Drug Use and Sexual Material
Directed by: David Jung
Written by: David Jung
Starring: Shane Johnson, Ella Anderson, Cara Pifko, Tomas Arana, Luke Baines, Dale Dickey & Julie McNiven
In a Halloween season that’s providing countless demonic possession flicks (GRACE: THE POSSESSION, THE TAKING OF DEBORAH LOGAN, INNER DEMONS, among many others), only one has caught my interest enough to review it before the impending All Hollow’s Eve. This film is THE POSSESSION OF MICHAEL KING. Part of the reason I want to cover this comes from a cool premise and the rest is from friends recommending it in the past few weeks. Does MICHAEL KING do enough to separate itself from an over saturated demonic possession subgenre? Let’s get into the nitty gritty of the plot first…
Michael King is a documentary filmmaker who’s recently lost his wife in a tragic accident. Not believing in God, the Devil, or religion itself, Michael proceeds to make his next film about how the entire spiritual world is a hoax. He does this in the most extreme way possible by participating in a whole lot of questionable rituals that would make even the most diehard atheist think twice. We see Mike do it all. By it all, I mean rituals, summoning demons, chatting with psychics and even practicing a little necromancy on the side. While he believes this is bogus, it turns out that something malevolent may have latched itself onto him. This sinister presence is not letting him go without a fight. Deteriorating physically and losing his sanity, Michael’s documentary takes a horrifying turn and you can guess where it goes from here.
The plot for MICHAEL KING is simple and doesn’t offer anything particularly fresh in the actual possession itself. The really interesting (and even darkly funny) stuff pops up in the first third as Michael does a whole lot of bad things in the name of making his documentary. I may be an atheist myself, but I would never go to the mad lengths that this title character does. As soon as he steps foot in a morgue, you’ll see one of the most questionable things that Mike goes through. With all of these bad deeds, you’d think he’d be an unlikable character but he’s not. We are given enough of a reason to see why Michael is so desperate to go to the lengths he does and feel sorry for him when he does wind up realizing the truth. A demonologist says something along the lines of “If this part makes you nervous, you better turn back now,” after Mike is hesitant to drink a cup of LSD in order to start a ceremony. He definitely should have turned back. Bad things happen in this film and they’re well-executed to a certain extent.
The plot is fairly predictable when the actual possession begins and there’s a significant amount of time that moves a little too slowly (despite the short running time). Characters don’t necessarily make the wisest moves and I’m not just talking about the obviously possessed filmmaker. A few clichés make themselves known and aren’t too distracting. The biggest problem I have with MICHAEL KING is that it relies far too much on jump-scares caused by quick edits or a silly visual. An example would be when things get very over-the-top in the finale in Mike is being thrown around like a rag doll at one point. A few dumb effects aside, a lot of creepy techniques (including a very unnerving voice of the demon) are used in neat ways. One moment is ridiculously clever and involves an ant crawling on Mike’s body (you’ll know it as soon as you see it).
Though things can get cheesy during points and there is an abundance of attempted scares that fall flat, MICHAEL KING is a mostly competent possession flick that did the job of entertaining me. I can already guarantee that it’s of a higher quality than a majority of the possession flicks hitting this month. It does stumble occasionally, but MICHAEL KING is sure to creep out those looking for a good demonic scare or a film that dives into some uncomfortably dark material at points. POSSESSION OF MICHAEL KING comes recommended.