Demonic possession seem to be all the rage in horror right now. From big budget features like Deliver Us From Evil to Nicholas McCarthy’s slow burn feature At the Devil’s Door, why has Lucifer become so in demand? For writer/director and former studio executive David Jung, making his feature debut with The Possession of Michael King felt like the perfect fit. Jung spoke with us about the themes of the film, loving horror movies his whole life and what’s different about his take on the Satanic sub-genre.
“My directorial debut. It’s really cool, I definitely have the bug now!” Director David Jung told us about his upcoming horror film. “It was such a fun process making this movie. I’ve been a writer, I’ve written a lot of movies and before that I was a studio executive. I was an executive at Disney and Paramount Studios and I just kick myself that it took me so long to jump into directing a movie.” So how did Jung decide to make a horror film? “They always say write what you know and I think specifically for a movie I was tailoring to direct myself, I grew up on horror films. I’m a huge horror-monster movie-mad men-machines junkie. I’ve seen everything and I also kind of have a personal bone to pick with religion.”
Jung continued, “I’ve always been thematically attracted to the idea of transformation. One of my favorite films is David Cronenberg’s film The Fly. I think it happens across genre, you see all kinds of character transformations, but it’s so wonderfully visual in science fiction and horror films because you can watch a character actually physically turn into something else. While I didn’t want Michael to physically turn into a monster, I wanted to be right there with him as an audience, as it’s slowly creeping up on us, as we’re so slowly watching this burn that takes place within him, that by the end, if you look at the very last frames in the film compared to the very first films in him, you should see a real difference in what he’s become. Part of that stemmed from, I love The Shining, it was a really influential movies on me as a kid and I always though it’d be really cool to do The Shining from the point of view of Jack Torrance… I thought, God, all these possession movies, all these demonic movies, it’s a family, it’s a kid or it’s the wife and we bring in a priest and we’re outside the person that this is happening to and I wanted that to be our main character. I wanted to bring a little bit of that scientific approach and personal approach and documentarian approach to the main character. ‘This is happening to me and let me describe to you, if I can, what is going on inside my head,’ as much as possible and I thought that would be a really cool twist on this genre of film.”
In its drive to be a little different than the other possession horror films, Michael King really shows the viewer various forms of spiritual practice that could invite or incite something from the other side. How much of the practices shown in the film were based on real life rituals? Most of them, according to Jung. “I did a lot of research for this story and I tracked down a lot of really arcane, occult manuscripts. Some things that had to be translated, some things that were passed from person to person and a lot of things that are in old books that are still surviving. I didn’t want the rituals that he was doing to be like a lot of the other stuff that had been explored in the recent mythology. I didn’t want it to be Ouija boards and candle lighting. There’s actually a small homage to those types of things when he gets a mail order demon summoning kit, but I wanted to dig into some really old pagan dark stuff… and I found some of that stuff and the necromancy ritual that he does and the demon summoning ritual that he does those are very close to things that I found that were real methods of summoning spirits and demons. The only thing I really made up in this story was the name of the specific demon and the mythology behind that demon, but all of the other stuff, the ritualistic stuff, is that’s a lot of stuff that I found.”
The Possession of Michael King, starring Shane Johnson, Julie McNiven, Ella Anderson, Cara Pifko, Dale Dickey and Tomas Arana, and written and directed by David Jung, hits theaters August 22 and iTunes and VOD August 26, 2014.