The Last Horror Blog: 'The Possession of Michael King' Review - the Next 'Paranormal Activity'?

The Last Horror Blog: 'The Possession of Michael King' Review - the Next 'Paranormal Activity'?

Aug 21, 2014

Welcome to The Last Horror Blog, a biweekly column on all things horror.


Ouija poster

New Ouija trailer proves some toys are deadly

Universal’s Ouija doesn’t hit theaters until October 24, but that hasn’t stopped the studio from releasing a new trailer for the film that demonstrates not all toys are safe for kids.

While the movie looks fairly traditional (young adults use board game to contact dead friend, wind up contacting something much more menacing, must fight to survive…), we’re still interested in checking it out. Maybe our lowered expectations will even work to our advantage. Sure, Ouija isn’t going to replace Witchboard as the greatest film made about the board game that terrified us as youngsters, but when Witchboard is the pinnacle of your subgenre, there’s obviously room for improvement. Check out the trailer below. 

 

Prepare to be creeped out by the new trailer for The Canal

Ireland isn’t often considered a hotbed of horror cinema, but that doesn’t mean our friends on the Emerald Isle can’t put out some movies that will give you heebie-jeebies. The latest example is Ivan Kavanagh’s The Canal.

The mysterious ghost story took the Tribeca Film Festival by storm earlier this year, and is now set for a theatrical and VOD release on October 10. To mark the occasion, here’s a new trailer that certainly doesn’t skimp on the spooky stuff. 

 

Get a new leash on death in this trailer for Collar

Gutterballs filmmaker and gore-meister extraordinaire Ryan Nicholson is back with another splatterfest in the interestingly titled Collar.

Laid to Rest’s Nick Principe stars as a demented killer targeting victims on skid row, but he upgrades to higher value targets when he takes a rookie female-cop hostage and makes her his latest plaything. Check out the clip below. Unearthed Films will be bringing Collar to home video on November 18. Sounds like perfect Thanksgiving viewing.


Collar - Trailer by dreadcentral

 

Horror Review

There’s a lesson at the heart of David Jung’s new demonic-possession film The Possession of Michael King – and that lesson is don’t go poking around in things you don’t understand. As far as horror films go, this is not a particularly deep thematic point, but Jung’s film starts off strongly enough that even a somewhat lackluster final act doesn’t derail the feature as a whole.

Titular character King, played convincingly by Shane Johnson, is a documentary filmmaker. To cope with the tragedy of losing his wife in a horrific accident, King takes it upon himself to film a new feature – one that will explore the occult and prove that spiritualism is all just a big pile of hooey designed to prey on people who miss their loved ones. You don’t have to be an Oscar-winning writer to figure out where this is going to go.

After encounters with trashy Satanists, mediums and a mortician turned necromancer, King finds himself experiencing strange things. Could it be the supernatural world he didn’t believe in has taken an interest in him? If you guessed yes, you clearly understand how these things work.

Within the recent deluge of demonic-possession films, The Possession of Michael King mostly stands apart because it’s one of the rare films in the subgenre to make the victim a man. From Friedkin’s seminal The Exorcist through to more recent fare like The Exorcism of Emily Rose and The Last Exorcism, these films have often presented young women as the unwitting vessels for the dark forces. There’s probably an entire book to be written about why this is, but it’s nice that Jung’s film breaks with tradition. Johnson makes for a credible lead and plays possessed pretty well too.

Unfortunately, that’s the only place where The Possession of Michael King really breaks new ground. The film opens strongly, but bogs down in the second half, where most of the events feel like things we’ve seen in countless other demonic-possession films. Bodies get tossed around, King starts behaving oddly, insects are everywhere, etc.

This is not an inherently bad thing – and The Possession of Michael King is a decent demonic-possession film in spite of its familiarity. It’s just a bit disappointing to see it rely so heavily on standard genre tropes in the latter stages. The opening act is quite good (particularly a sequence where King meets with a couple of Satanists) and raises the bar of expectation. The rest of the movie can’t quite match it.

Jung, who wrote and directed the feature, could certainly have a future ahead of him in the business. He clearly knows the material, and with a little more polish could easily become a voice in the genre. For a debut feature, The Possession of Michael King is an impressive piece of work. It’s not perfect, but it does enough things right to make it worth checking out for fans of films like Paranormal Activity and The Devil Inside.

The Possession of Michael King will be in theaters on August 22, and available on iTunes August 26.

 

Horror on the Horizon

As August finally starts to make way for September, we finally find a few horror films playing in actual theaters.

Tomorrow sees the arrival of The Possession of Michael King in limited markets. If you’re not patient enough to wait a few days for the iTunes release, this could be something worth seeing.

The week of August 29 brings us a wide release of The Poughkeepsie Tapes director John Erick Dowdle’s As Above, So Below (pictured above). As a fan of Dowdle’s work, I have hopes that this one will be good.

There are also two limited releases that week – the WWE-backed Leprechaun: Origins, and Carter Smith’s Jamie Marks Is Dead.

 

Horror on the Homefront

Next Tuesday is packed with new horror releases on DVD and Blu-ray. The highlight is season four of AMC’s popular zombie soap opera The Walking Dead. Italian giallo fans will be pleased to see that Luciano Onetti’s Sonno Profondo is finally getting a release. The Possession of Michael King also makes its disc-based debut.

September 2 is also packed with discs, including Complete Legacy Collections for all of the classic Universal monster movies (grab those posthaste), new Blu-rays for older films like Firestarter (pictured above), Wes Craven’s The People Under the Stairs and Dracula ’79. If you’re looking for something of a more recent vintage, there’s Cabin Fever: Patient Zero – which should make the Ebola outbreak seem quaint in comparison.

 

 

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The Burning Question

In the movie The Fault in Our Stars, what is the name of the character played by Lotte Verbeek

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