Film Review: ‘The Possession of Michael King’

'The Possession of Michael King' Review:

A grief-stricken husband courts the forces of hell in this inept found-footage thriller.

The seven stages of grief don’t allow for the sort of madness afflicting the title character in “The Possession of Michael King,” who responds to his wife’s tragic death by inviting demonic spirits to enter his body and shooting an ill-advised documentary about his experience. It’s a wacky premise for this otherwise woefully cliche-ridden, conceptually wobbly indie thriller, the latest of many shoddy attempts to mine a found-footage conceit for grisly supernatural shocks. Nowhere near as rigorous as the “Paranormal Activity” movies it superficially resembles, writer-director David Jung’s increasingly unpleasant, rarely frightening debut feature won’t possess screens for long.

As Michael (Shane Johnson, impressively committed) informs us at the outset, he’s an atheist, a condition that movies like this exist to rectify. By the next scene, his wife (Cara Pifko) is dead, partly due to advice she received from a psychic (Dale Dickey, seen too briefly), and Michael has waged a bitter one-man war on all religion, superstition and belief in the paranormal. Oddly, his campaign entails dabbling in the dark arts, participating in satanic rituals and attempting to summon the most diabolical forces known to man — all of which he captures on camera, in hopes that the demons’ non-activity will definitively disprove the existence of either God or the Devil. To say that his plan backfires would be an understatement, and understatement has no place in this silly, dunderheaded movie.

The kooky early scenes in which Michael interviews necromancers and demonologists, submitting his body and soul to their most outlandish suggestions, afford the story’s most intriguingly offbeat moments. But things go to hell pretty quickly, and not in a good way, as Michael begins to manifest every symptom of possession in the horror playbook: His eyes turn bloodshot; his mood, temper and hygiene decline precipitously; bugs start crawling all over his body; and he begins terrorizing his young daughter (Ella Anderson), who of course exists for the express purpose of being terrorized. Needless to say, don’t get too attached to the family dog.

That Jung and his collaborators haven’t found any new angles to explore in this endlessly overworked religio-horror claptrap would matter far less if they had a firmer grasp of form and technique. But unlike the recent and far more effective found-footage thriller “Afflicted,” “The Possession of Michael King” gains virtually nothing from mimicking the cheap, murky look and jumpy syntax of an underfunded documentary. That Michael chooses to keep the camera running when he’s in the full throes of a massive spiritual-psychological meltdown makes about as much sense as some of the editing and lensing choices, as the film keeps shifting between handheld shakycam and coolly composed master shots. Still, the special-effects work, especially when Michael starts vomiting blood and carving pentagrams into his chest, is impressively nauseating.

Film Review: 'The Possession of Michael King'

Reviewed online, Pasadena, Calif., Aug. 21, 2014. Running time: 83 MIN.


An Anchor Bay Entertainment release of a Gold Circle Entertainment presentation in association with IM Global and Quickfire Films. Produced by Paul Brooks, David Jung. Executive producers, Scott Niemeyer, Guy A. Danella. Co-producer, Jeff Levine. Co-executive producer, Tedi Sarafian.


Directed, written by David Jung; story, Jung, Tedi Sarafian. Camera (color, HD), Phil Parmet; editor, Jake York; music, Mark Binder; production designer, Gabor Norman; art director, Julie Zian; set decorator, Justin Lieb; costume designer, Francine Lecoultre; sound (SDDS/Dolby Digital/Datasat), Chris Howland; re-recording mixers, Binder, Nick Shaffer; special effects makeup, Autonomous F/X, Jason Collins, Chris Dodly; special effects coordinator, Frank Ceglia; visual effects supervisor, Matt Bramante; visual effects producer, Gresham Lochner; visual effects, Locktix; stunt coordinator, Anthony Molinari; line producer, Jaime Burke; assistant director, Craig Borden; casting, Eyde Belasco.


Shane Johnson, Julie McNiven, Jed Rees, Ella Anderson, Cara Pifko, Cullen Douglas, Freda Foh Shen, Patricia Healey, Dale Dickey, Tomas Arana.
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  1. Tavayia cole says:

    I found this movie to be a thrilling and scary test of one’s faith.Those who follow the good book should be able to see this piece as thought provoking.If you are god fearing and scared of the devil and or demons, different realms may linger and or questions may enter one’s mind that maybe there is ,just maybe evil comes to those who ask for it .Another “cliche” movie as it was called by some skeptics ,in my opinion was a great piece. Movies like these are always welcomed and it shows for every evil ,there is always a good ,It is known as life’s balancing act.

  2. Miss_Murder says:


    Going through the end credits, the song is called “Something Real” by “IMN” aka “I Make Noise” and written by Mark Binder … However, I’ve yet to find it or at least that version as I too like the end song lol. I’ve heard it before – Not sure if it’s the same artist or not though originally as like I said, nothing comes up when searching for it. *shrugs* I guess one can always rip the audio from the file (as I downloaded the movie) and burn on a CD or store on a USB device to play later.

    As for the movie, I’ve seen worse – It’s not the ‘worst’ movie I’ve seen as far as scary movies go – To attack movies based on ‘cheap thrills and scares’ is getting ridiculous as what do critics expect?! It’s ALL been done, expecting anything new is wishful thinking, I believe.

  3. mark says:

    What is the song playing during the credits?

    • Miss_Murder says:


      Going through the end credits, the song is called “Something Real” by “IMN” aka “I Make Noise” and written by Mark Binder … However, I’ve yet to find it or at least that version as I too like the end song lol. I’ve heard it before – Not sure if it’s the same artist or not though originally as like I said, nothing comes up when searching for it. *shrugs* I guess one can always rip the audio from the file (as I downloaded the movie) and burn on a CD or store on a USB device to play later.

  4. Alex D. says:

    I loved it. A very effective horror movie, and quite original and innovative in its interpretation of the demonic possession genre. There are a lot of substandard horror movies around, where they just run through a checklist of predictable cliches. The Possession of Michael King is NOT one of those – instead it will surprise and delight the horror film lover.

  5. Reblogged this on HORROR BOOM and commented:
    I’d like to say that Justin Chang just hates found-footage horror (though this has a tiny bit of “mockumentary” style added) but he knew enough to name “Afflicted” as an example of a “far more effective” found-footage thriller. Unfortunately, he points out that the special-effects work (which I’ve heard is mostly practical) is ‘impressively nauseating’ and earlier in the review mentions ‘grisly supernatural shocks’. Goddamnit, now we’re going to have to see it eventually. It doesn’t hurt that Dread Central had good things to say about it, either.

    “The Possession of Michael King” will be available on VOD Tuesday, August 26th.
    Check out the trailer below, and read the rest of Mr. Chang’s review on by clicking “View original” in the lower left.
    Oh, and a note on the premise of the movie (we’ve only seen the trailer, but read quite a few reviews, enough to state the following): the lead character starts to mess with the supernatural due to the death of his wife, which has destroyed him. He wants badly to find any evidence that the supernatural exists, because if he can, that means there is an afterlife and he’ll get to see his wife again eventually, which obviously will help soften the blow of her death. If you know the motivation of Sigourney Weaver’s character in “Red Lights,” it’s pretty close; she plays an agnostic who has spent a good part of her life and career debunking anything remotely supernatural, especially scams …deep down because, she finally admits, if she can find even a grain of proof that there’s an afterlife, she can take her son off life-support. I highly doubt this movie is anywhere near as intellectual, but there it is. Also, Michael King doesn’t immediately start trying to actively invoke demons to possess him minutes after she dies; from what we have read in reviews, he works up to it. Not the entire movie, since this IS an 80-minute long found-footage flick, but still. If it turns out I totally misread the reviews and he just goes batshit the minute she dies and starts carving pentagrams into his chest immediately, we’ll amend this post.
    If you’re interested in reading Dread Central’s more positive review of The Possession of Michael King (that title really doesn’t do the movie any favors), just click here to check it out.

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