For me, one of the things I think fellow movie geeks miss when they turn their nose up to the found footage subgenre out of hand is that there are as many stories you can tell in that realm as there are with any other genre or subgenre. It’s a form, and what the filmmakers DO with that form is up to them. I have said it before, and can say it a million times but found footage is just another way to tell a story, and sure, there can be a glut, and most of them are mailed in but, well, welcome to movies, baby. Look around and there’s a glut of anything that trended or did well at the box office. Found Footage can also be a low cost entry into film and can use small casts and few settings. Sure, there are few great found footage movies but darn it, I am here to find them.
THE POSSESSION OF MICHAEL KING is the fascinating story of a grieving widower searching for answers in a world he no longer understands. Michael King is a documentary filmmaker that has lost his wife to tragedy and now must raise his young daughter on his own with a lot of help from his sister. King decides to channel his grief and rage into a project out to prove that there is nothing supernatural in the world, and that there is neither a God nor Devil. King puts a message out to the internet explaining that he is making a documentary and wants to meet anyone who believes they can help show him proof of the supernatural, specifically if they can show him proof of the demonic. King goes so far as to use himself as bait as he meets people who say they can summon a demon to possess him, and to a necromancer that believes he can pull a dead person’s soul into Michael’s body. King insists there is no such thing as demons but as he starts going through these rituals and focuses so much of himself on his angry, hateful behavior things start to happen that force him to re-think his atheism and ake him wonder if he has gone too far to get back and save himself and those he loves.
This is a really fascinating idea here. So many found footage films are about the paranormal but few take this tact. The use of the pseudo-documentary filming works wonderfully here and allows for many of the issues folks have with people constantly shooting when things are getting out of control. The idea of turning one’s pain into art is both powerful and, in cases like this, dangerous. They get into some pretty creepy ideas and the two rituals we see are really chilling and well done. The acting is also pretty solid with the lead doing a pretty good job with rough material. There are some very creepy images here, some great set ups that pay off, and some very dark themes that will make many very uncomfortable.
All of that is great!
As many great things as there are though, the film starts to fall apart in the third act. We get a really cheesy moment of interaction with Michael and ‘something’ that appears on a TV screen impersonating him (it is SO corny) that really kills the momentum that was building. Also, the use of music in the film is frustrating as this isn’t presented – which it could have easily been – as a ‘finished’ artifiact that is being presented so therefore you just have to sorta shrug because there is ambient movie music in it. *Shrug*. I also feel like this film could have used a few more minutes or even moments to show that it wasn’t as easy as it seems to find people that can lead you to demons and the arcane. Hey, maybe it is that easy, what are demons doing anyway other than scratching at the door like dogs waiting to be let in, right?
As far as the film goes, it almost doesn’t go far enough. In that, I feel like we needed to see not more gratuitous moments but more moments leading to what we have and horror at their discovery. Repercussions.
To me, I think they should have done away with MOST of the supernatural stuff altogether until the very end. It would have been far more powerful to see the actor portraying things that we cannot see but he can. Interacting and dealing with things beyond his beliefs. What they give you works, for what they were doing, but there is so much pain, trauma, and sorrow here that I think there are opportunities missed so they could make a ‘scary’ movie.
Part of this, I would wager, is unfortunately because audiences, smart as we are, don’t always seem to appreciate having to work for answers so many movies just give them to you and hope for the best.
For me, the movie just didn’t work at the end. There’s a lot of great stuff but the third act feels like too much and it feels at times very heavy handed. The finale works but could have been done with a softer touch and darker tongue. Saying all this, fans of found footage and possession movies will find a lot to like. It’s definitely creepy, has a lot of scary moments, poses a lot of creepy questions, and gives you enough blood to sate your cravings. Certainly not a bad film, it just didn’t bring it all home for me but it’s worth a look if you are looking for something different in the found footage realm.
3 out of 5
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