The Possession of Michael King is definitely a different kind of film. Yes, it is “found footage,” and yes, it is also a possession film, but it is also more than the sum of its parts.
This is a film that wants to take you on a dark journey that start with the sun setting on a life and never really rising again. It wants the viewer to confront their thoughts on what lies beyond and it doesn’t pull any punches. (Read my review here.)
Shock Till You Drop recently spoke with writer/director David Jung about the film. His thoughts behind it, what it takes to summon a demon, and what he hopes you’ll take with you when you leave the theater.
Shock Till You Drop: What kind of film is The Possession of Michael King?
David Jung: Its awesome! [laughs] Its a documentary style horror film about a guy who has a bone to pick with spiritualism. He has a very personal bone to pick because wife ended up passing away, partly due to what he feels is a silly belief that humanity has bought into. So he makes a conscious decision to try to once and for all, prove the nonexistence of the supernatural. Doing that, he puts himself at the center of the experiment and challenges god or the devil to Do your worst.” So, he throws this challenge out there and things start to happen. We begin to wonder if the things that hes doing and the stress that has happened in his life are bringing on his own mental breakdown, or are we actually witnessing something supernatural. So it has a bit of a psychological element to it but it hopefully delivers on the scares as well.
Shock: You are very specific about investigating this option and that option. What kind of research did you do there?
David Jung: I did a lot of research. For this specifically, I wanted to really have fun exploring the actual rituals. Most possession movies, a demon randomly shows up. I took a lot of time to really try and track down some arcane manuscripts and find some rare pieces. A couple of things I actually had to have translated.
Shock: In your mind, which of the many people that Michael went to see actually are responsible for the demon that shows up?
David Jung: I specifically wanted to confront this in a way that it would become that kitchen sink logic conversation of people talking after the movie. I think the supernatural or religion doesnt have anything to do with a spell or a ritual or a thing. It has to do with opening yourself up to good or evil. The second that Michael basically says, God or the Devil, if youre out there, come get me! Im open to you! Thats all it takes.
Shock: The film goes into some really dark places. Did you ever consider killing off the daughter?
David Jung: Yeah, actually. There was an earlier draft of the script where we did kill the daughter. Youre seeing the aftermath and the police are coming in. It was really pretty gruesome. We went back and forth a little bit about that. Its already such a dark movie and the wife is dying, the dad is dying. We felt that there should be something. Without that, the film is so tragically dark that there is no hope for redemption. You already leave the theater feeling dirty, you know?
Shock: Because of the subject matter, was the film difficult to cast?
David Jung: I thought it would be because I have two young daughters and they are a little bit younger than Ella Anderson, who plays Elle in the film. I thought it was going to be difficult with parents, for casting. I was surprised by the lineup of people that we had. I was very conscious on set with Ella and her mom. I was saying things like; Do we need to talk about this scene or that scene? And her mother said, No. She loves this stuff. She loves horror movies and all this dark bloody stuff. As far as the rest of the cast, I didnt really realize the implications when I wrote this. Specifically, when I wrote this really long Mantra that Michael King is saying. When hes laying out his theory about spiritualism which is ending with his challenge to God and the Devil. We started casting this movie and a piece of that ended up being part of the read. And the guys that were coming in were saying that they felt kind of uncomfortable saying this out loud. As they were saying it, I was kind of like, WOW! I never thought of it that way. I wrote it on paper, but to sit in a room and say with conviction, God or the Devil, F you, come get me! Its a scary challenge.
Shock: Were Michaels views in line with your views?
David Jung: Yes. I definitely have strong views on religion. Look whats happening now with the world. Most of the bloodiest wars throughout history have been religions work. It still happens today.
Shock: Anything you would like to say in closing?
David Jung: Some of the best criticisms that Ive gotten with this movie have been that its not just a horror movie, its not just a jump scare movie. It has a psychological element to it and its somewhat elevated. As long as people walk out of this thinking about the bigger picture, Ill feel like I succeeded in some small way. The next movie Im working on is called ROAM which stands for “Rider of Another Mortal.” It is a dark thriller. What were going to do is out everything up on the website from start to finish so that people that want to follow along with it can really watch the process as its being made . Check it out at ROAMMOVIE.COM