Very few movies have I left so angered. The Devil Inside takes the cake by having an ending that literally is a link telling you to go find out what happens, but Incarnate sure gives it a run for its money in terms of stupidity and unsatisfactory resolution. I’m angry that Blumhouse, a production company I trust in this new era of horror would betray me with this half-baked plot that isn’t even worth being dignified with the categorization of “horror.” Somehow this is a script that only contains the boring parts of every other B grade exorcist movie, teasing you with morsels of goodness that it immediately chucks out the window, uninterested in presenting anything that could be considered scary, engaging or well made.
You probably know nothing about Incarnate as it was buried so hard by the studio when they realized how big of a turd they had on their hands. The exposition which characters goes through multiple times, never finding a way to make it succinct, is that demon “evictor” Dr. Ember (Aaron Eckhart) has the ability to enter the minds of the possessed rescue their conscious from the parasitic entity. He has spent years chasing after the same demon that killed his wife and child and is now inhabiting the body of 11-year-old Cameron (David Mazouz). The opening of the film is very standard character development with the innocent child (in this case with daddy issues) being attacked by a superhuman homeless woman who then transfers the spirit into him. Then the “interesting” opener starts as Eckhart (I’m not calling him Ember, that sounds dumb) walks through a strobing nightclub which turns out to be the twisted dream a possessed man. This is our introduction to this Matrix style subconscious where one can have elevated abilities and make anything appear if they know how to free their thoughts. Instead of Agent Smiths, the evil is in the form of whatever the person desires most only their eyes turn black, the easiest sign of villainy. While this isn’t a new concept, it’s the hook of the movie, the way in which to distinguish itself from every other exorcism movie that Blumhouse has released in the last decade. Yet what is so baffling, is that Incarnate seems to find any way possible to prevent Eckhart from getting to use his unique ability. I don’t understand why, it’s not like it’s a budgetary restraint because the other plane isn’t a fantasy world, just a reflection of real life locations. I can only theorize that the filmmakers lacked any sense of creativity and thought that audiences much rather see characters argue in an apartment than go time jumping in a dream. The entire plot is essentially stalling for time as they find so many ways to derail Eckhart’s mission and to boot, he can only be in someone’s head for eight minutes. What is the point of such a brief time constraint? They even make the time literal, instead of 8 minutes in the real world translating to 2 days in the subconscious, it’s made to be a hard 8 minutes. You can’t do shit in that amount of time and the movie doesn’t want to even try.
This is a movie that is so completely out of touch with what the audience wants, with what the genre is, what the world is like. The members that make up Eckhart’s team are Oliver (Keir O’Donnell) who’s dressed like a reject extra from Green Room and Ilsa (Breanne Hill) a Madonna-Avril Lavigne hybrid, a style that no way informs the character or what decade she existed in. Their repartee is cringe worthy as they joke about their dating lives that are a shallow attempt at character development. Eckhart has gone full gravelly voice in place of having to do any acting. Much like he seems has to given up, so does this film when it comes to doing anything scary. It assumes that if you give a character black eyes and call them possessed then the job is done. There’s not even jump scares which means this movie is lazier than lazy movies. For the amount of explanatory detail it gives, because it’s padding out that 90 minute run time, we’re left not knowing what is this demon’s purpose aside from a vendetta against Eckhart. Cameron sits crossed legged in his vacant bedroom for the duration of the possession which is roughly a week. The common belief is that when a demon inhabits a person or a home they cause a lot of destruction as they try to spread their power yet “Maggie” is very content chilling on the floor, not really bothering anyone. It all adds up to the fact this movie has no drive or inspiration, merely going through the motions of what “this kind of movie” is supposed to me.
I apologize for the ranty-ness of this review but I really feel used as a horror fan. It’s such a shitty cash grab of a film that I wouldn’t expect from Blumhouse which usually prides itself on being at the forefront of the best new genre films. I was similarly vexed by Adam Wingard’s Blair Witch which fails in terms of pay off and plot direction but at least you know the filmmaker cared about what he was making and I can’t fault him for constantly defending his vision on social media. I don’t know much about director Brad Peyton but I can’t imagine him caring much at all about this material as he’s never directed horror and has more experience in the family friendly, Revenge of Kitty Galore realm. I wish Blumhouse had dumped this on VOD where I wouldn’t have given it a second thought but a big screen release means the studio felt they could trick enough of us into seeing this garbage with their mildly enticing trailer. The actual evil of Incarnate is it being thrust upon the world to see and it should just go to hell.