A scientist with the ability to enter the subconscious minds of the possessed must save a young boy from the grips of a demon with powers never seen before, while facing the horrors of his past.
Incarnate tells the story of Dr. Seth Ember (Aaron Eckhart) lives his life from a wheelchair due to a horrific auto accident that claimed the life of both his wife and his son. So what does he do? He toddles around on his chair, using powers (that he’s kept hidden from everyone for years) to get into the minds of the possessed, and help to evict “parasitic entities” from their subconscious. Mind you, he doesn’t call them demons, according to him they’re parasitic entities – exorcising demons is a job for the church. Ember doesn’t subscribe to any religious theologies, he just gets inside of the possessed person’s mind, and forces the parasites out from the inside. There’s one particular entity that he’s been hunting for years now, named Maggie (These “entities” can’t all have cool names like Absolom or Pazuzu y’know), and Maggie was responsible for the accident that took his family. But the Catholic church has gotten wind of the noggin where Maggie is currently hanging out, so they send the lovely Catalina Sandino Moreno to coax Ember into paying a visit to a young boy named Cameron (David Mazouz), who lives with his absolutely clueless mother (Carice Van Houten), to see if he can help. So Ember brings his two faithful assistants, Ilsa (Breanne Hill) and Oliver (Kier O’Donnell), and proceeds to insinuate himself into little Cameron’s mind in order to face the dreaded Maggie in a battle only one of them will walk (Or roll) away from. But there are instructions for those who are watching him do his work, and the most important one is no one can touch the victims who are infected with the parasites, as they can easily pass from one person to another through touch.
So what do you think happens at least once during the film?
I don’t think I’m gonna surprise anyone by stating that Incarnate is easily one of the worst horror films I’ve seen this year, but it’s also one of the most frustrating ones I’ve seen as of late as well, mainly because there’s the kernel of a good idea sitting in the middle of this mess, but director Brad Peyton and writer Ronnie Christensen take the easy way out. Rather than challenge their audience with a new take on the possession sub genre, they choose to trot out every possible trope/cliche that can be assigned to a possession film, and toss it up onscreen. This is too bad because there’s some merit to the idea of having a non denominational exorcist that goes about his business without the assistance of a church. Incarnate is a mash up of far better films like Dreamscape (1984), The Exorcist (1973), Inception (2010) and Brainstorm (1983), and even though it’s terrible, one wouldn’t be too far off the mark thinking that there’s a small chance that it might’ve been something special if the film makers had some balls. But they don’t, and the actors here seem to know it as well. All performances are pretty much mailed in, there isn’t a single ounce of passion here from anyone. I guess Eckhart gives it a go, but all his best efforts only lead to a character that looks a lot like an older Tom Cruise circa Born On The Fourth Of July (1989), and sounds like Christian Bale doing his best Batman growl.
I wonder why movies like this one exist. No one reading the script could’ve possibly thought it was scary, and even if someone did – making it with a PG-13 rating in mind pretty much guaranteed that if there were any real scares here, they’d be neutered to the point of irrelevance. There’s nothing here that’s even remotely frightening (nothing except the fact that someone actually made this film), and I can’t fathom an audience getting any kind of thrill from watching this whatsoever. Combine lazy direction with a dumb, nearly insulting script, and actors who are obviously just going through the motions to grab a quick paycheck and you get films like Incarnate.
Incarnate comes from the (not so good) people at Blumhouse Productions and WWE Studios, one of the more unholy pairings I’ve been made aware of as of late. And with this turkey, Blumhouse can lay claim to releasing 3 of the worst horror films of the year. They assailed us with The Darkness early in the year, and then shat out something called Viral not too long afterwards, and Incarnate is the proverbial cherry on the top of the Blumhouse sundae of shame. The film was obviously on the shelf for more than awhile as young Mr. Mazouz has grown up quite a bit, and can be seen on the FOX Network in a little show known as Gotham. I believe that both The Darkness and Viral might have been shelf bound for awhile also, which leads me to the question, why even bother giving them theatrical releases? None of these films were promoted much at all, they were all summarily dumped into theaters with little to no fanfare whatsoever (Viral was actually released directly to VOD. Bypassing theaters altogether), and they all stink to high heaven. Films like the ones I just mentioned don’t make their lead actors look too good either. I actually thought Eckhart’s career was massacred after appearing in 2014’s I, Frankenstein, but he bounced back from that trainwreck nicely with roles in My All American (2015), Bleed For This and Sully (both 2016). But then I see him flailing away in crud like this and wonder if his agent doesn’t like him too much.
Chockablock filled with stupidity, Incarnate is a total waste of time. You will get angry at it, you will wonder what you could’ve bought with the $11 you paid to see it, you will repeatedly nod off while watching it, you will walk out of the theater with a few less brain cells than you had when you walked in. What you won’t be doing while watching it is having a good time, because films like this one from unscrupulous hacks like the ones at Blumhouse and WWE aren’t made with entertaining audiences in mind. They’re made to steal your money, and give you nothing in return. The fact that they can still make some money from releasing fecal matter like this is scarier than anything in this movie.
Incarnate – Zero out of five shrouds.