Getting Possessed by “ENTITY,” Part Two
One of the most refreshing current trends in horror is the resurgence of old-fashioned haunting stories. Pioneering the horror genre practically into existence, stories of spirits, possession and malevolent souls have had a renaissance as of late, with intelligent and resourceful fright filmmakers showing exactly why these tales were so terrifying to begin with. And amongst this resurgence rises FANGORIA Presents’ ENTITY, an intense psychological and supernatural fear film about a documentary crew investigating a reported haunting site in Siberia. You can watch ENTITY for free on Hulu.
And yet, despite the impressive performances all-around, one of ENTITY’s strong suits comes in the form of the titular creature itself, also known as “Mischka.” Restless and violent yet spiritually wounded, Mischka feels like a realistic take on the classic concept, and the physically imposing performance is effectively creepy in the hands of actor Michael David Worden. Worden, however, claims his acting was the result of more than just his intuition.
“The character has his own story, developed over rewrites and into the filming process, which isn’t explicit in the final film, but which fuels the performance,” he says. “In conversations with [director] Steve Stone prior to filming, one element of Mischka’s persona was his profoundly wounded humanity. He is a tortured man—so my mental space was filled with thoughts and images of suffering in punishment cells.
“However, Mischka doesn’t just suffer: he is enraged by those who cause him to suffer,” continues Worden. “He was left feeling profoundly abandoned by the God in which he had previously placed his hope, and so he calls on Satan. Mischka’s rage against his original tormentors becomes so powerfully and indiscriminately destructive because Satan answers his prayer. And I took delight in his unquenchable rage; there was something noble about it.”
Aside from this backstory, Worden had many other inspirations for his unsettling performance. The actor says that he had obsessively listened to The God Machine’s “Out” to stimulate his character internally, and then compounded on the influences of the horror films that shaped him throughout the years.
“I celebrated becoming a teenager by watching the HAMMER HOUSE OF HORROR series back in 1980 on British TV,” Worden reveals. “Since then, I picked up a taste for wounded, lonely, suffering monsters: Schreck in NOSFERATU; Karloff in FRANKENSTEIN; Isabelle Chasse in MARTYRS. In terms of narrative, explicit engagement with the diabolical haunts me, such as William Friedkin’s THE EXORCIST or Richard Donner’s THE OMEN. I love the hidden, indistinct things that lurk in the shadows, so I’m engaged by threatening, spectral presences like in Andy Muschietti’s short, MAMA.”
Worden’s interpretation of the character is a passionate one, inspiring dread during every moment he is on screen. Yet the actor attests that his spectral persona is only as creepy as the location in which it resided, as Worden’s performance was as molded by the experience on the set as it was in the world the creature inhabited. In this aspect, Worden went above and beyond his requirements, tapping psychologically into the inherent brutality of the conditions that surrounded him during ENTITY’s Yorkshire, England location lensing.
“We were filming in February, so it was brutally cold and on an unheated set. I didn’t have to pretend physical distress,” he says. “Being naked for most of my scenes seemed entirely in tune with Mischka’s story, so it was a physically miserable experience, but creatively satisfying. I spent most of the time on my own in some cell-like room between filming scenes because it felt like the most appropriate preparation for Mischka’s tormented journey.”
Indeed, Worden’s approach to acting is not one most performers will venture toward, as the emulation of physical and mental desperation in Mischka translates on the screen with gruesome tangibility. Yet instead of these experiences driving Worden away from the genre world, he instead embraces the role he has made his own and looks forward to a frightening future.
“I’m grateful to Steve Stone for trusting to his instincts in believing I could do justice to Mischka,” Worden says. “I’m hungry for more horror roles. I’d love to do a giallo film. And I’m sorry Jesús Franco has just died—working with him would have been an interesting experience. But anything dark, tormented and seriously unpleasant would suit me fine!”