Questions of life and death have been asked for thousands of years. Where does one’s soul go after leaving their body? Can a spirit haunt a human being, and can your soul be overtaken by a dark entity? Death, spirituality, and demonic possession have interested many filmmakers over the years in such cinematic depictions as The Exorcist, Amityville Horror, Insidious, The Conjuring, and Paranormal Activity 1-25. Is it the adrenaline rush of playing with an unseen force, or is it finding answers to questions we really don’t want answers to? I was a skeptic in the field of the paranormal until I had my own personal experience that caused my views of the “other side” to drastically change. In the past ten years, we have seen a drastic increase in reality shows, and ghost-hunting reality shows at that. Not to mention about fifty other possession movies that you can find in the five-dollar bin at Target. The problem is that many of these movies never reach their full potential by playing it safe with effects, imagery, and story lines. But once in awhile you will run into a movie with this ghostly premise that will really grab your attention such as Paranormal Entity and Death of A Ghost Hunter.
This week I had the great pleasure of speaking with the talented and well-spoken actor, Shane Johnson, about his new film The Possession of Michael King that will be released August 22nd. Shane Johnson has quite the filmography resume under his belt, including films such as Saving Private Ryan, Behind Enemy Lines, and countless TV Shows, like NCIS and CSI. I will be quite honest, after viewing the trailer for The Possession of Michael King my initial reaction was “Holy Shit, a horror movie that looks really creepy”! This movie grabbed my attention because it looked to be a possession movie that had the essential parts to make a great film. The greatest films of our time didn’t need hundreds of millions to make something great and to become a memorable film. Even within the trailer and my first screening of this film it stayed true to many cult classics of our time by using cinematography in a very raw and authentic manner. The film embarks on a very twisted and dark path amidst the layers of evil that accompany Michael’s own caliginous curiosities. I am very impressed with David Jung’s trifecta work in the film (Director and writer of the screenplay/story). He made the movie really work. Michael (Johnson) pushes the limits physically and mentally in this film that includes many memorable possession scenes that seemed almost too real to not believe it. Michael transitions from the depressed widower into a black-eyed demon that invites death to his doorstep. As I was wrapped up into the downward spiral of Michael King’s malicious and contorted lifestyle, there were numerous bloody images that made me feel uneasy. Was Jung trying to compare the feel of uneasiness to that of a possessed individual? Probably not, but it really kept me interested throughout the film, and tackled many questions that have not been properly answered in many previous films of this genre.
Having viewed the film already, I was quite excited to speak with Shane and find out if he has any personal experiences with the controversial topic or was merely an actor crafting a character lost in the deterioration of his own sanity. This is a horror film for the true horror fan and it will make you need to sleep with the lights on, put the Ouija Board back in the basement, and to make sure to check the closet before going to bed. The team of Jung & Johnson put all their efforts into something quite refreshing in this film and it will not disappoint any audiences. This is one of the biggest horror surprises of 2014 and the use of intense camera work from the demon’s viewpoint, chilling transitions, and Michael’s diabolical alter ego gave the true horror fans something to cherish. I recently had a brief phone conversation with Mr. Johnson and picked his brain on this film, life experiences, and his future plans.
Nerdlocker (NL): How did you get involved with this project?
Shane Johnson (SJ): Well scripts come to me via e-mail now, instead of the old days when you would receive the paper copy on your desk. When I read through The Possession of Michael King it was a well-crafted and organic script with great dialogue. I have read many scripts of this genre in the past and the scripts are usually thrown together to support a menacing creature, which can be fun, but lack other characteristics of a great authentic film. Horror films exploit certain elements, which are redundant, but this film was very well crafted and I was interested from the get-go.
NL: This film incorporates the paranormal, spirituality, and demonic entities throughout the film. Are you an avid believer of the paranormal?
SJ: I wouldn’t say an avid believer, but there are creepy things out there that go unanswered. I don’t ask too many questions, because I don’t want to know the answers. I have had a few disturbing occurrences with the paranormal from my past and some of which were “coincidences” while filming this movie. From my research, things I saw and reading about made me fear what I was getting involved with on this specific film. I was scared because there was heavy material in this film and pushing boundaries against demonic possession. My experiences with the paranormal made me more of a believer, and while filming the movie, I was able to tie up loose ends of the questions that I had about the spirituality and other side.
NL: This film takes a major physical and mental toll on your character, was that easy to transition into? How did you prepare yourself on set to become the possessed Michael King?
SJ: It’s hard to shut if off, it’s easier to turn it on, drop it to a state, and let the mind wander. When you go down in the caves of the set, it’s hard to extract yourself. It’s easy showing up to the set, throwing your head in, and getting into character.
NL: How long did it take to film this movie?
SJ: 19 days!
NL: There were many horror movie elements in this film such as gore, ghosts, and possession. Did you work with the visual effects /makeup team each day and what were your experiences? Do you prefer the visual effects in this movie or CGI?
SJ: When you think of a movie like Godzilla, a giant monster filmed on a movie set that does most of the shots on the green screen, it’s harder to visualize and get the right amount of emotion in an environment like that, compared to the actor that is bleeding all over his body after being attacked by a spirit. This film and genre, spiritual, demonology, this stuff is easy to get involved with and get creeped out. If you sit in a dark room and have the hair on your arms stand up. Especially if you feel something, sense something, and you can’t put your finger on it.
NL: What do you think will grab the audience’s attention about The Possession of Michael King, compared to other movies in the horror genre.
SJ: My hope is, like most of these kinds of movies, you are following this man/woman, who is a non-believer, which a lot of people can relate to. They take this journey to the dark side, and my hope from being in the filmmaking team, the audience will follow this man down a psychological rabbit hole. As opposed to it being a fear of the unknown, a demon outside of you, a creature, a serial killer, or possession films about haunted houses. This film is not an external entity; it’s an internal possession that you can’t run away from. You can’t drive away from it and it’s linked to your soul.
NL: What films/directors inspire you the most? Any horror films that helped you get into character for The Possession of Michael King?
SJ: In my research for this movie I wanted to get as much information on the subject as I could leading up to the filming of the movie. I was really inspired by The Last Exorcism, the Ashley Bell movie. The man that played the priest was a charming, non-believer that goes down the dark rabbit hole. I really liked what he brought to the movie and the possession footage. I may have mentioned to you before, The Shining, it is a great psychological journey. The audience is used to seeing how the mind plays out in the world, but in this film, we see the world from Jack Nicholson’s perspective.
NL: Do you have any upcoming films or projects coming up in the future?
SL: I am working on my next genre film, which is going to be on hold for six months. I am tied up in a show called Power, which is on Starz. We finished up our first season and are heading into filming for Season 2. 50 Cent is the executive producer of the show as well. The second we finish that, my hope is to jump into this next genre film.
The Possession of Michael King will be released to the public on August 22nd 2014. This film will be a pleasant surprise to any fans that have stayed true to this genre for many years and I believe this will be remembered for many years to come. This isn’t just another movie to push aside; this is one that you need to pay attention to, and most importantly keep an eye on Shane Johnson’s performance. Shane has something unique and is going to be an actor that is going to continue to impress audiences.
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