Movie Review: ‘INCARNATE’ chokes on its own evil

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Jared McMillan // Film Critic

INCARNATE
Rated PG-13, 91 min.
Director: Brad Peyton
Cast: Aaron EckhartDavid MazouzCarice van HoutenCatalina Sandino MorenoEmjay AnthonyMatt Nable and Keir O’Donnell

Sometimes, there are factors in a preview/advertisement that make us want to take in a movie against our better judgment. It could be the genre, the actor/actress, or just a chance at escaping reality to have the ol’ mind numbed. There can be successes, but more often than not, we should’ve gone with our gut.

Enter INCARNATE.

Is it a genre the audience can enjoy? Sure, a low-key horror flick is always good entertainment. Does this particular movie have an actor everyone can get behind? Of course, who doesn’t like Aaron Eckhart, the man who stole the show in THE DARK KNIGHT?! (Yeah, I said it) These factors, along with that exorcism/creepy kid formula, have a couple of those ingredients to make for a solid time at the multiplex.

Actually, the movie starts out with some intrigue. Becoming something of a Blumhouse calling card is the pre-title sequence that ends with the possession. Then we’re introduced to Dr. Seth Ember (Aaron Eckhart), who is in the midst of pulling a possessed man out of a mental fugue induced by the entity. Once the man is freed, we are back in the real world, where Dr. Ember is paralyzed. He had been crippled in a car crash, his wife and son killed by a woman possessed by an entity.

INCARNATE then delves into its own path in the exorcism subgenre. Ember and his team are visited by the Vatican to get rid of something possessing young Cameron (David Masouz). You start to get the feeling that the title of “doctor” comes from something that involves psychology. He explains that they are not demons but parasites, leeching off the possessed person’s energy. They trap them in this fugue state, providing them with the impression of their biggest desire coming true. Ember is reluctant to work with the Vatican, but guess who is attached to Cameron?

The second and third acts then become a battle between Ember and “Maggie,” the name they use to refer to the parasite because that was the name of the main host. This is where the world-building goes from intriguing to boring. For some reason, all parasites know each other, and answer to Maggie. Furthermore, it seems like the writers just gave up any creativity and used a bunch of other cop-outs that every fan of horror has seen before.

Directed by Brad Peyton (SAN ANDREAS), the worst part about INCARNATE is that it wastes an interesting leading character and becomes its own enemy. What looked to be a shot in the arm of a tired subgenre just decided to give up and not serve any purpose. They try to save it with a twist you can see coming a mile away, and they rely heavily on background soundtrack that becomes monotonous and tiresome.

The definition of the word “incarnate” is a spirit embodied in the flesh, but INCARNATE just turns out to be redundant in essence.

INCARNATE is now playing nationwide.

About author

Preston Barta

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.