Blu-ray Review: The Possession of Michael King

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A “found footage” horror movie about someone undergoing demonic possession—the description alone is enough to inspire yawns. But The Possession of Michael King does serve up a handful of legitimate “jump” moments and several sequences of genuinely creepy imagery during its relatively breezy 83-minute running time. It’s not a great movie by any stretch (the whole “found footage” gimmick is played out at this point), but debut director David Jung shows enough flair for the genre to keep things interesting.

As with many “found footage” flicks, the set-up tends to drag a bit as we wait for relative normalcy to develop into scary freakiness. In this case, Michael King (Shane Johnson) is grieving the loss of his wife (Cara Pifko, glimpsed only in home movie flashbacks). He wants to make a documentary that will disprove the existence of angels and demons. Though he fights it with every skeptical instinct, the devoted atheist learns that demonic possession is quite real after he willfully allows himself to be inhabited by a nasty, ant-conjuring, blood-thirsty spirit.

Possession of Michael King 1 (380x214).jpgIs it weird that this devoted father to daughter Ellie (Ella Anderson) is so eager to start dropping acid (and more) in the name of disproving spirits? Yes, because even without the onset of demonic possession he’s still putting his very psyche at risk. Is it highly unlikely that Michael would find a mortician willing to violate legal and ethical law by extracting teeth from a fresh corpse and sewing them onto the stomach of a documentarian? Yes, but it’s even unlikelier that he’d allow himself to be filmed doing it. It also turns out this particular demon is a real camera whore, since he likes to mug in self-shot footage that I somehow doubt a demon would bother to create in the first place. Just suspend your disbelief and go with it.

Michael King is mostly a one-man show and Shane Johnson (of Starz network’s Power) is thankfully up to the task. He strikes a good balance between acting like a regular Shmoe (albeit one driven by a passion to expose “fake” demonologists) during the more “candid” moments and cranking up the evil charisma whenever the demon is in charge. Jordan (Michael Ray Escamilla), Michael’s documentary cameraman, could’ve been better utilized as he seems to disappear for large stretches. Only Julie McNiven, as Michael’s sister Beth, has anything approaching a supporting role of substance. She also happens to be a real cutie, but Michael King isn’t a T&A flick so don’t expect anything racy (though McNiven does have an epic camel toe close-up during one of the film’s creepiest scenes; seriously, it almost looks like they spritzed the crotch of her panties in order for them to cling better).

Kudos to Starz and Anchor Bay for delivering a handsome 1080p transfer of a film shot for a subgenre known for subpar visuals. Director Jung mainly eschewed the ersatz “consumer-grade” and security cam look of many “found footage” films for a smoother, pro-shot appearance. Cinematographer Phil Parmet’s lighting is evocative, moody, and well-presented on Blu-ray. What appears to be a mix of practical and digital gore effects is shown in convincing clarity. The Dolby TruHD 5.1 mix offers great dynamics. The dialogue is if anything mixed a bit too low but it results in the scare-moment effects jumping out even more startlingly.

There are zero special features accompanying The Possession of Michael King. The Blu-ray package contains a standard DVD and an UltraViolet digital copy.

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Chaz Lipp is a Seattle-based freelance writer whose focus is music and film. As “The Other Chad,” he has written for the online magazine Blogcritics since 2008. When he’s not writing, Chaz can be found trolling jazz clubs, attempting to find somewhere to play his sax (whether anyone wants to hear…

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