Review: THE POSSESSION OF MICHAEL KING, It's Not Real Until You Try It On Yourself
Michael King does not believe in God. Michael King does not believe in the Devil. Michael has taken it upon himself to prove that any spiritualism is wrong and when he does that, humanity can move on with their lives and not be chained down by frivolous notions like life after death and such.
His motivation is the death of his wife. Samantha. He blames a fortune teller because his wife followed her advice, which he claims is the reason for her accidental death. So he starts by visiting her and we are given a hint of premonition as to Michael's fate in his journey into debunking spiritualism.
So Michael goes after the blackest of black magic. The stuff that people are scared of, he says. And when these rituals, incantations and summonings do not work, then people will realize none if it is true and humanity can take that step forward together. He documents his journey with cameras on his person and set up in all corners of his home.
He visits a priest who claims that the Church performs exorcisms and gives an account when he called upon the Devil to save him from an abusive father. Michael follows that up with a visit to a demonologist who helps him find a demon to connect with. Because, as the demonologist explains, demons want to come in. Michael picks his demon through automatic writing; one associated with cacophonous music, a breeder of ants, he targets the non-believer and will torture until madness. Yet Michael partakes in a bat-shit insane summoning ceremony to invite this demon in.
Events will only get weirder from here on in. He will also visit a Necromancer because Necromancy is supposed to be the darkest of the black magic arts. He comes out of that late night experience convinced that he made contact with his late wife. She was trying to tell him something but he could not make sense of it. This is only proven further during a visit to a medium and a spirit barges into the group session bringing the medium right up to Michael and trying to give him a warning before is stopped by some kind of seizure.
We are just over a third of the way into the film and it is clear to the viewer that these rituals are actually working and that a demon has indeed taken up residence inside Michael. He looks awful. He is pale and he cannot sleep. He has this cacophonous noise going on his ears. He takes audio from one of his recordings to a sound engineer and this guy cannot believe this noise came from Michael's mouth because the range is beyond anything a normal human can do.
Michael finds himself alone now. His friend who was helping him document this is clearly freaked out by what is going on and leaves. His own daughter Ellie is growing scared of him. Their dog is freaking out in his presence. He records himself creeping around the house at night and into his daughter's room and the room where his sister sleeps over. All the while Michael croaks and cackles and his eyes cloud over. All clear signs that there is an unwanted tenant inside himself. Then the ants show up and that pretty much seals the deal. Michael is possessed by this demon mentioned earlier in the film, he accepts that it is real, and it would please him a great deal if this demon would just pack up his bags and go, please.
But of course, it is never that simple. If the history of cinema has taught us anything, it is not so easy to get rid of a demon once he has moved in. And Michael quickly finds himself alone in this because no one wants to believe that he has been possessed. Anyone he consulted at the beginning of his descent into Hell does not want to believe him. So Michael must go it alone, and demons, being the bastards that they are, are reluctant to leave. They are jerks that way.
And so Michael once again goes to any rituals, spells and evocations that will help excise the demon and his journey becomes violent and horrific. He gets tossed around like a rag doll. The demon takes over control of his body and makes him perform acts of self-mutilation. He argues with the voices inside his head. The number of knives hanging about the stove begin to disappear one by one. No. Really. This is important to note. Each time a knife disappears something bad is going to happen.
Director and writer David Jung reaches into that familiar bags of tricks that comes with possession films. While Jung does not necessarily do anything new under the Sun with his jump scares, they are still effective in their execution. Some of his intended scares and or creepiness capture through the lenses of the cameras Michael uses to document his journey get clouded in over production. His lead, Shane Johnson, has tremendous physical demands placed upon him. He writhes, creeps and crawls as good as anyone.
The hook in Jung's film is that Michael willingly seeks out proof of spiritualism and decides that the darkest route is the road to take. Few possession films start from the beginning like Jung's does. Most focus on the excising the demon after they have taken up residency in one's soul. And a journey into the darkness makes for a far more entertaining film than one that would depict a journey into the light. Trust me, those lighter ones are nowhere near as entertaining and the only tears those films end in are tears of joy and happiness. Who the hell wants that, right? Well, clearly Michael does by the end his journey but it will not end that way.
The Possession of Michael King culminates in a horrific and frightening journey into a hellish madness that leaves King with but one option to excise this demon.
The film opens in select cinemas on Friday, August 22 and will be available on VOD on August 26th.