Michael King doesn’t believe in God or the Devil. Following the sudden death of his wife, Michael decides to make his next film about the search for the existence of the supernatural, making himself the center of the experiment.
“The Possession of Michael King” is another ‘found-footage’ movie in the tradition of “Paranormal Activity” and while its overall style and atmosphere tries to extend beyond its tiresome gimmick to more traditional movies like “The Exorcist”, in the end, the movie fails because it simply cannot decide what it wants to do. It sets out to try and scare you and while the first half of the movie has some genuinely interesting set-pieces, the last half quickly runs out of steam as we are bombarded with a constant barrage of stereotypical quickly-cut demonic images and deep, resonant evil voices that are in no way frightening. The story centers on Michael King (Shane Johnson), a man who has just lost his wife in a terrible car accident. He lives in the family’s house with his young daughter Ellie (Ella Anderson) and his sister Samantha (Cara Pifko), who is helping him cope with his wife’s tragedy.
Michael does not believe in God. Actually, he doesn’t believe in a lot of things so he sets out to see if there is indeed, an afterlife and proof of its existence. Rather than consult with people of faith or people who have encountered near-death experiences, he decides instead, to go in the opposite direction, interviewing mediums, psychics and demon summoners. After having consulted with a married couple who can claim to communicate with the dead, they perform a ritual on him and for a while after, nothing happens but slowly, he begins hearing things and seeing things, albeit briefly, through the corners of his eyes and gradually, he can hear voices within himself as well as out in the open. The movie succumbs into tired and lazy camera gimmicks and sound effects that have been used in every horror movie you’ve probably ever seen. The fact that he has cameras set up in every room in his house makes for convenient viewing when his own personal handheld camera is not around.
The family dog goes missing and then turns up mutilated, in the midst of a conversation with the camera, a white dove slams into the window and then disappears and the movie ends with a scene ripped directly from “The Exorcist”. The whole ‘found footage’ gimmick may have worked in “The Blair Witch Project”, “VHS” and “Paranormal Activity” but there are times when it is just completely unnecessary and this is one of those times. If the filmmakers had concentrated on just trying to tell a good old fashioned ghost story, they might have succeeded but they got greedy and wanted the best of both worlds and that is where they failed. People running around with cameras is not scary anymore and it never was but the creators of Blair Witch incorporated it into their film so successfully, that people mistook the gimmick as an authentic storytelling device and forgot that it was the actual story that was creepy.
There is a movie called “The Changeling”, not the drama with Angelina Jolie but a movie from 1980 which starred George C. Scott as a writer who after the death of his wife and young daughter in a car accident, moves into a creepy old house so that he can finish his latest novel but then strange things start happening. This move is a classic and goes to show just how effectively creepy a movie can be without resorting to tired, hackneyed devices such as found footage and in many other circumstances, 3D. If you can find this movie, I’d highly recommend it instead.
In theaters August 22nd including the AMC Mesquite 30
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