If it isn’t the love child of Paranormal Activity and The Last Exorcism! On paper it’s interesting, but the end result is anything but. Besides the first 10 minutes, The Possession of Michael King dedicates itself copying Ma & Pa instead of becoming an acceptable entry in an exhausted sub-genre.
There are things beyond our existing plane? Nope, Michael King (Black Cadillac’s Shane Johnson) doesn’t believe them. After the death of his wife (This is Wonderland’s Cara Pifko), the man finds it worthy to prove this point and, personally, one fine excuse to put those documentarian skills to use. Cue sessions mingling with the dark arts and, voilà, it seems like King was very mistaken.
Michael King’s biggest crime isn’t in bearing a generic title but the way it was executed, spending little effort to concoct its own spin on the possession genre. Modern possession entries find it difficult to not be branded as derivatives of the William Friedkin’s 1973 classic, but at least The Exorcism of Emily Rose, The Possession and The Last Exorcism contain that “what makes me different” factor (obviously not in the title) – making it courtroom-centric, displaying solid visual style or having a fraud as a protagonist, respectively. Director David Jung excels in replication here – ultra close-ups, night-vision sequence, endangered child, expendable dog, eardrum-shattering “boos!” and recording goes haywire moments – and for that, you’re more occupied noticing the similarities rather than caring for Michael.
A pity then, because the one bright spot of this production is its main actor. Johnson plays a convincing skeptic, brash and confrontational towards those who connect with the supernatural. There’s an even better performance to be found during the quieter moments, where thanks to a rather soothing voice, you can really relate to him. Unfortunately, what makes Michael special concentrates in the beginning of the film, and everything is lost once it’s time to keep up with his possessed cinematic relatives including screaming, contorting, pentagram-making and self-mutilating.
Props to Jung, however, for most of the time sticking to practical effects for the bloodletting and introduce a few new details in the proceedings. A meeting an audio programmer, a Shutter-inspired therapy session, the Web being where Michael obtains his “demon summoning kit”, ants rather than shadowy goats or dogs with dark fur and using a psychedelic substance to call spirits are interesting, but ultimately they are washed clean by familiarity. I did say little, not zero, effort. Not enough for a C average, still.
It’s best to stay away from Michael King like his daughter (Touchback’s Ella Johnson putting on a good show here) did. Perhaps it’s such a danger to others because, like the character, it brings badness upon itself.