September 4, 2014

VOD Review: The Possession of Michael King (2014)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2282016/
The worst kinds of movies are the ones that start off strong, and then quickly fizzle into uneven piles of absurdity, and that is exactly the kind of movie that The Possession of Michael King is.

There's a great premise at work here, and it's one that is explored in a fun and exciting way for about the first half-hour or so, but like many movies of its kind, this one loses it's footing in the back half.

It's really kind of a bummer, because we were genuinely pulling for this one to be great.

*This review is going to contain a bunch of spoilers, so beware!

When his wife is tragically killed in a bizarre parking meter accident, Michael King embarks on a journey to prove that the Supernatural world is nothing but make-believe. I guess that's his way of reaffirming his lack of faith in God, while coping with the death of his wife, but I have to imagine that summoning Demons isn't going to do much to aid anyone in the grieving process.

Did we mention that Michael is also a Documentary Filmmaker? Because he is, and that gives him all the reason that he needs to run around filming everything that happens to him in this movie.

"Forget helping my daughter navigate the waters of a deeply painful tragedy, I need to prove that Demons don't exist!"
Michael sets up cameras all over his huge house (of course, because what movies ever take place in a small, shitty house), and begins doing rituals in which he invites Demons to come on over and hang out with him for a while. Never mind that he has a small daughter who could potentially be put in danger by all of this, because she and her safety aren't all that important in the grand scheme of things.

Shitty Parenting 101.
In his quest for the truth, Michael goes to see a dying Priest, who warns him not to mess around with Demons; a Demonologist and his wife, who ask Michael for a sperm sample, and then try to rape him; and a Mortician who fancies himself a Necromancer, who sews a corpse's teeth to Michael's stomach and then sacrifices some toads... Somewhere along the way, Michael King finds himself possessed, which ends up involving him doing a lot of method acting.

He's being roofied with LSD and doesn't even know it!
From here on out we get Michael King acting all creepy on camera, arguing with himself in front of cameras, laughing maniacally into cameras, trying to finger his sister on camera, and nearly killing his kid on camera... because Demons really like to film themselves doing Demon things?

Don't ask us. We have no answers for you on the subject.

Wait... did that Demon just pause to take a Selfie?
This movie started off pretty good, and then just got worse as the minutes wore on. The portion of the movie that was good involved Michael going to visit various "practitioners" of the dark arts, and his experiences with them. It was interesting, fun, and the section involving the Demonologist couple was actually pretty unnerving. It was interesting to watch him search for answers, and to see what kind of creepy and odd people it lead him too.

I guess things really fell apart for us once Michael became possessed, and started roaming around his house at night, growling, acting odd, smirking and laughing to himself, and filming his adventures with a swamp-water lens on his camera. I mean, most of the "scary" bits were scenes of him either doing that, or sitting in a room and arguing with himself (the Demon), and most of them weren't really scary at all. In fact, most of them felt more comical than anything.

Yeah, that happened.
We get that him laughing in an evil way, or mean-mugging the camera, was the Demon trying to be all nefarious and whatnot, but the whole internal conflict thing just didn't work. None of it played as realistic, and it didn't inspire fear in us at all.

The fact that we knew what was coming probably didn't help matters much either: you know the second you see a dog in a movie like this, that it's going to end up dead; you know that there's going to be a lot of contortion, people being dragged around, levitation, distorted quick-cuts... We even rolled our eyes at the ending, because once the scene in the closet began, we knew he was going to throw himself out of the window, Exorcist-style.

No, we aren't psychics, we've just seen it all before, and this movie wasn't shy at all in telegraphing where it was headed, and how it was going to get there.

Is this guy glued to the ceiling or something?
The one true moment of awesomeness in the latter half of this one -where we thought that Michael had actually killed his daughter and left her room a bloody mess- turned out to be a ruse. Too bad they didn't say "fuck it" and just go for it with that scene; that would have pulled us back into things for sure.

In the end, there's just not enough of anything here to set this movie apart from the dozens of other Found Footage flicks that have told the same story, and in the same way. It's got all the beats and gags that a movie like this is supposed to have, but the problem is that we seen it ALL before, many times over, and the experience doesn't get better with each retread.

Brothers are not supposed to do that!
The whole premise of this movie is suspect, and most of it served only to make us wonder just how much of an idiot the main character was.

Are we supposed to feel for Michael when he basically ignores his daughter (who is what, 4 or 5 years old?) while he pursues some stupid investigation into the world of the Supernatural? The kid's mom just died, asshole, she probably needs you now more than ever, but by all means, make your pointless, shitty Documentary instead.

At the absolute best, he's endangering his kid and sister with all of his careless Demon-summoning, which will most likely leave his daughter an orphan. At the absolute worst, they all die painfully.

That kind of shit is something that a guy does when he's young and dumb, not when he has a child to look after, and especially not after that child's Mother was suddenly ripped from her life.

What in the hell is he grinning about... again!?!
Oh look, more jump scares featuring sudden bursts of loud sounds and distorted camera footage! Do filmmakers honestly not know by now how off-putting that type of shit is, and how much it kills the mood of their movies?

The worst part of most Found Footage flicks is when the cameras that are recording things go all wonky, and obscure whats going on with distorted, jumbled, quick-cut imagery. Nothing can be clear and straight-forward, because why actually show people a clear view of what is going on?

Of course all of this is predicated on the notion that any sort of Supernatural force disrupts recording devices with its energy or something, which is actually a pretty neat idea, but it's used ad-nauseam as a cheap ploy in these types of flicks, rather than an occasional, effective tool.

There needs to be far less of these tropes in Found Footage (or any) Horror flicks:

  • Distorted footage whenever something Supernatural happens.
  • Quick-cut editing in which you show someone rapidly shaking or oddly contorting.
  • Inserting a frame or two of an actually creepy image in-between the frames of said distorted footage/quick-cuts.
  • Loud noises or music cues that exist only to jar the audience. Build your atmosphere, and use that cheap BS sparingly.
  • Instances of someone getting dragged off camera by an unseen force. You can't have a Horror movie these days without using that exciting trope.
  • And why does everyone's body twist and contort when being "possessed?" Are Demons that ineffective at their jobs that they can't just possess someone without all of the theatrics, which serve no purpose at all except to look cool in a movie?

If your movie needs to utilize these tricks over and over again to illicit some sort of a response from your audience, then you're doing it wrong.

He will either shake vigorously, move suddenly with loud musical accompaniment, or he will scream while his jaw stretches to an unreasonable length. Trust us.
There was plenty of blood in this one, and a few good gore gags as well: the chest-sewing scene was pretty gross, and the part where a pin get pushed into a fingertip was downright disturbing.

Damn, dude!
Nope.

Good "possession" movies are hard to come by. Like really, really hard.

This Demon is a camera whore.
The beginning of the movie worked really well, and genuinely pulled us into Michael King's world, but once everything shifted focus to Michael and his Demonic struggles, it all went south very fast. The younger and more causal Horror viewers out there will probably find this one far more effective that we did, but the more jaded of the Horror faithful will find this one an uninspired bore for the most part... like we did

D+

The Possession of Michael King is available now on Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00KB01MN8/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00KB01MN8&linkCode=as2&tag=thehorclu0a-20&linkId=MWM2B5PCGRVAUADZ

Hildy from Mad Men is in this!

10 comments :

  1. Dang. I was gonna watch this one. I guess not.

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  2. I agree with your score. I think I liked it more than you because I went into it expecting it to be horrible, and was a little surprised... But at the end of the day, your score is perfect. \m/

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  3. I usually agree with this site and it's reviews but I think this one was much better then you are giving it credit for.... It's better then most possession films and better hen most found footage films... Your argument about hating on the film because he is a father who endangers his daughter is misdirected.. He is a true on believer... Thus he really feels that anything he is doing is not going to harm his daughter because it is all BS... Only ting I did not like was the Demon holding on a camera for some scenes and the jump scares... Otherwise te main actors performance was very good and helped sell the part... Probably the 3rd best possession film ever made after The Exorcist and Te Exorcism of Emily Rose.

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  4. Damn, I suspect this review is at least ten times more entertaining than the film. Thanks for the warning. ;-)

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  5. Fair enough, JAWS, I can totally get how lots of folks would like this one.

    Phil, I suspect you may be correct lol

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  6. Damned thing to sit trough. Even when he realized that something is going incredibly wrong, he didn't bother to leave the house or at least send his daughter and his sister away. What, does this movie suggest this is a fight of will Michael versus No-it-can't-be-a-demon? Yeah, history has proven that the human will is much stronger and a demonic entity will never be able to lay a hand on your beloved. Just forget that the demon will take control over your hands to double or tripple your suffering.

    I had to laugh at the ending. Laughed hard. Not in a good way, tough.

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  7. Yeah, Myra, this one was a rough ride.

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  8. I think this is a great movie. well it's not that predictable as what the author pointed out( maybe he is very smart to see them coming, I don't). I actually think it is a good movie, in fact the first footage horror film i ever finished watching. Paranormal activity is very bad. It has no storyline and IS PREDICTABLE and boring. By the way, Michael King has a fabulous acting in the movie and it really brought me into the story especially when it combined with the movie effects. Everything is nice and i love the ending too. It made me thinking that the daughter was a dumbshit by hugging her toy too hard, making it to give out sound. However, she was actually kinda smart by trying to divert king's attention by leaving the doll at a spot and went hiding on the other corner. As for the ending, i didnt expect that he would jump and killed himself after his wife convincing him by saying "go now". Just as i was thinking about the meaning of his wife's words, he skipped out of the window and died. Well done. Clean and tidy ending that also has some contents. I enjoyed it in overall.

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  9. and i have to diasgree with most of the things the author mentioned about the film. Sorry.

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  10. i for one loved the film and thought it was pretty horrifying... honestly it scared me and especially that part with humming and grinning it is a very scary film....highly recommended

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