DIRECTOR: Brad Peyton
WRITER: Ronnie Christensen
Carice Van Houten
Catalina Sandino Moreno
Paul Vincent O'Connor
Dr. Ember is still coming to terms with the death of his wife and son. Both were killed in a head-on car accident by a woman who was possessed by a demon. Dr. Ember has also been left paralysed and bound to a wheelchair due to the accident. Since the car smash, he's spent every last waking moment trying to hunt down the demon who is responsible for killing his family. When the Vatican comes to him for help, he'll come into contact with a young boy who may or may not be possessed by Maggie.
Incarnate is a film that joins an incredibly long list of movies that deal with religious horror. Over the last decade or two, movies that deal with religion, possession, and exorcisms have seen a considerable increase in the realm of horror, so much so that the whole premise has been driven into the ground. A rare occurrence is now trying to find a movie that adds something original to the sub-genre. Does Incarnate bring anything new to the genre?
Here we have a film that's produced by the WWE. A production studio that is known for dealing with the sport of Wrestling. Over the last thirteen years, they have decided to start churning out low-budget action, thriller, and horror movies. In over a decade, they have only managed to get one of those films right, the brilliant Oculus. The rest of their catalogue fall someone between below average genre films that may find their way onto video-on-demand.
The WWE has decided to venture into the overpopulated religious horror sub-genre. Do they manage to deliver something original or is it a case of, I've seen it all before? Incarnate is not good. The movie suffers from far more significant problems than just being predictable and a case of familiarity. This is a movie that really suffers first and foremost from an utterly terrible screenplay. The dialogue is some of the most painful that I think I've seen all year.
When it comes to Incarnate's plot, the biggest difference to most of those other semi-religious horror movies sees the plot try to introduce a very familiar premise idea. Our main protagonist Dr. Embers is able to infiltrate the mind of victims who are suffering from demonic possession. Does the premise sound familiar at all? It's because it's the exact premise that saw Jennifer Lopez enter the mind of a serial killer in the visually stunning The Cell.
The story has a lot of moments in the film that just don't connect. We witness a scene where a man is horribly murdered, as is a homeless woman yet cops and paramedics remove the body and ask no questions. It's never explained why and it all just moves from death to death without any plausible consequences. The ending also drops what feels like not one but two false endings and when it does finally come to an end, it's the dreaded 'a sequel will be on its way if this makes bank at the box office'.
The leading performance from Aaron Eckhart is one of the worst of his career. This is up there with I, Frankenstein regarding him chewing the scenery. This is all his show, and he will not let anyone upstage him. Here we witness him bound to a wheelchair, and he is wearing a terrible, cheap, dirty wig. Any chance that he gets to overact in a scene, he does it. The movie is luckily balanced out by adequate performances from Carice Van Houten and Catalina Sandino Moreno.
Personally, I think Brad Peyton is a rather talented director when it comes to doing large scale action. I had a lot of fun with his over the top disaster flick San Andres. Here he isn't given much to work with. The fact that the plot has our main character entering possessed minds, they really drop the ball when going with bland over the endless visual possibilities. The movie swings low with red and black contact lenses and colourful doors. They really missed their chance to show a hellish vision of a person trapped in a demonic state.
Lastly, when it comes to the gore in Incarnate, it gives the audience enough blood and guts to satisfy. We have one of the most brutal arm snapping scenes that I think I've ever seen in a film. We also have a gory scene with intestines being ripped out. The movie goes for gore and carnage over suspense. It tries to deliver on the jump scares more than tension building. The jump scares aren't very successful, It also wasn't successful in getting me on the edge of my seat.
DEATH TOLL: 7
BLOOD AND GORE:
- A kid snaps a homeless woman's neck.
- A demon attacks an exorcist.
- Someone is seen bleeding from the stomach.
- Someone coughs up blood.
- Someone has their intestines pulled out of their stomach.
- A man has his arm snapped in half.
- Someone's head is smashed into the floor.
- A woman and child are killed in a head-on car crash.
- A man dies after being cut open.
- A man slices his own throat.
- A demon is set on fire.
- A leg is snapped.
- A man jumps from a building onto the road below.
Incarnate is another religious horror movie that sadly lacks in almost every single area. This may be one of the only times where they had a chance to go all out and give us something visually spectacular, and they set the bar low and never tried to raise it. The lead performance from Aaron Eckhart sees the actor at a career low, the movie lacks any real tension or suspense and the dialogue is terribly cheesy. The film sadly doesn't add anything really new to religious horror. The only element that I can recommend is the gore.