In the decades since the release of the William Friedkin’s 1973 horror classic “The Exorcist,” there have been multiple attempts on the part of contemporary directors to leave their own mark on the genre. But most of these directors get trapped under “The Exorcist’s” influence and become consequently derivative.
However, “Incarnate,” the new film from director Brad Peyton (“San Andreas”, “Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore”) begins with a promising and unique twist on the genre, but ultimately fails to possess audiences because of its weak performances and hilariously awful dialogue.
The film opens with a dream sequence, introducing its most unique and interesting facet. Instead of exorcising demons through traditional methods of prayer and the sprinkling of holy water, protagonist Doctor Seth Ember (Aaron Eckhart) travels inside the minds of the possessed in an attempt to convince them to take control of their bodies back from the demon inhabiting them.
After exiting the first dream sequence when we are introduced to the lm’s central conflict, Camilla (Carice van Houten), a representative from The Vatican, calls on Doctor Ember to exorcise an archdemon out of the body of Cameron, an 11-year-old boy.
After entering Cameron’s mind, any novelty earned from its premise is lost after subjecting audiences to some of the most laughably cliché plot points most directors and writers work tirelessly to avoid.
For example: It is revealed that Doctor Ember’s wife and young son were killed by a woman possessed by a demon in a head-on collision, now he is out for revenge. In addition to the revenge trope, “Incarnate’s” plot derives any and all suspense from plot twists so blatantly obvious, viewers cannot help but see them coming at least fifteen minutes before they are revealed. The filmmakers cannot even seem to restrain themselves from adding in a shoehorned, last-minute romance for no apparent purpose other than to have one.
The acting here is no better. In most cases, actors in major releases are at the very least good enough to attempt to elevate a film when given terrible material to work with, but the actors in “Incarnate” only add to the mess.
Eckhart (“Batman: The Dark Knight”) is supposed to carry the movie, starring in almost every scene, but instead loses our attention by delivering every single line in the same low growl. We get it. Your character is damaged.
If there is any actor worthy of praise it is Houten (“Game of Thones”) who at the very least attempts to add some emotional depth to her delivery. But there is not much she can do given some of the most inane and cliché dialogue I have ever had the displeasure of hearing in any film.
Although the biggest problem with “Incarnate” is that it feels like a joke, playing more like a spoof of a horror movie than a genuine one. Every line of dialogue, plot twist, and special effect is executed so poorly, yet presented with an un inch- ing seriousness, winning more laughs than scares from audiences.
In fact, I feel no hesitation in deeming “Incarnate” one of the worst films of the year.
Usually, horror films fail because they are formulaic and mediocre at worst. “Incarnate” is outright offensive. Either because the filmmakers think their audience stupid enough to accept the idiotic plot and dialogue, or that they could manipulate audiences into believing this garbage more original than “The Exorcist.”