Possession horror films are a dime a dozen these days, with of course the granddaddy of them all being The Exorcist from the 1970's to The Last Exorcism Of Emily Rose and the current 'found footage' series Paranormal Activity milking the idea for all its worth over the course of five films in only a few years. The concept itself never really tires of being a terrifying idea and a sight to behold on screen as one goes through the degenerative process of their humanity being stripped away slowly by a malevolent force.
The latest to enter the sub-genre of horror films is The Possession Of Michael King from Anchor Bay Entertainment and set for release on Blu-ray/DVD, August 26, 2014. The film stars Shane Johnson (Black Cadillac) as the titular widowed and disillusioned father who decides to make a documentary to support the idea that the supernatural does not exist, all in an effort to come to grips over the sudden death of his wife. Of course as Michael consults with priests, demonologists, necromancers and even undergoes black magic rituals, his emotional vulnerability draws an entity into his body and as a result the supernatural force begins to break down Michael's will and control, putting his sister and young daughter who live with him under extreme danger.
The Possession Of Michael King (from the producers of White Noise and The Haunting In Connecticut) is a horror film that fans are either going to really like or will really hate and there are many reasons why. On the plus end of things, the movie has a very credible performance from its lead actor in carrying the weight of the material. Shane Johnson does a tremendous job as the disbelieving father who undergoes the bone-crunching and brutal unholy transformation. His youthful but mature presence, backed up by an incredible voice that would do wonders for future characters is truly the backbone of the film.
On the other hand one could argue that the film is a carbon-copy of Paranormal Activity, as the 'found footage' format of these type of horror stories seemed to be over-cooked by now...it would be a legitimate argument. But even though Michael King (written and directed by newcomer David Jung) is not really an original idea, it definitely goes for the throat more viscerally and bloody than any of those other movies have ever attempted to do. But the movie executes this in a very aggressive and bombastic approach to an audience, which brings us to the Blu-ray's technical presentation.
The Possession Of Michael King is presented in a widescreen format with a 1.75:1 aspect ratio and the digital clarity of the picture image is nothing short of outstanding. The entire film is razor-clean, sharp and piercingly defined visually. The sound design is a story all its own, which might be a conundrum for consumers. The Blu-ray possesses a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack which is like an audible demon on its own. While the sound mode is super strong and sharp for a speaker system, the design of the movie does not make it all that pleasing to the ear, with several instances shredding and blasting a sound system in such a way that it feels like you are being attacked by the movie.
As a listener this could certainly put you off the film in a huge way, which could lead to negative feeling about the piece over all. Once you hear all the sounds play out, you might also come to the conclusion that the movie is cheaply trying to implant fear in its audience through post-production scare tactics rather than the substance and story line of the movie itself. The standard DVD within the edition contains a little less impact with its regular Dolby Digital 5.1 track, but the picture quality is understandably not as defined and softer than its HD counterpart. It's a matter of trading one for the other and it's a mixed technical bag both ways. Both the Blu-ray and the DVD are bare bones discs and come with no special features attached to the film.
The Possession Of Michael King certainly is a much edgier 'found footage' type of horror film than a fan may be used to, but ultimately it doesn't entice scares or fear genuinely, it depends far too much upon its post-production design rather than its content. While there are quite a few commendable elements to the film and the Blu-ray (i.e. Shane Johnson's performance, the picture quality), Possession is so rough around the edges that it fails to stand out on its own. Although it seems like a quality experience, viewers and consumers should tread carefully before a digital demon like this bombards the senses.