Film: “Incarnate”; Director: Brad Peyton; Cast: Aaron Eckhart, Carice van Houten, Cataline Sandino Moreno, David Mazouz, Keir O’Donnell, Matt Nable, John Pirruccello; Rating: **
With minimalistic scares and a passive, complex plot, “Incarnate” lacks the chutzpah of a scare-thriller. In fact, it is a cheesy supernatural-horror film, which is neither impressive nor does it leave a lasting impact.
It is a tale that takes place over a period of three days, but seems like ages. The tale begins after a single mother Linsday (Carice van Houten) witnesses terrifying symptoms of demonic possession in her 11-year-old son Kevin (David Mazouz).
The Vatican representative, Camilla (Catalina Sandino Moreno) calls a wheelchair-bound scientist Dr. Seth Ember (Aaron Eckhart) to rid Kevin of the evil spirit.
The Doctor scorns organised religion as a whole and refers to what he does as the “eviction of parasitical entities”. He says, “I evict them from inside.”
He does this, with the aid of his two assistants, who lower his heart rate so that he can be as close to death as possible. From that point, he enters the victims’ subconscious state and convinces them that they are living in an illusion. And he leads them to break this illusion.
While he is on his mission with Kevin, he realises that the powerful demon Maggie, who he is trying to evict, is actually pursuing him.
The screenplay by Ronnie Christensen has layers. As the tale unfurls, the plot, which is unfocused, seems convoluted, bizarre and unconvincing. The characters as well as the exposition are purely passive. They fail to elicit drama or explain what is going on. It is all a wild jumble of half-baked derivatives that borrow material from numerous sources and the most obvious inspiration is of course “The Exorcist”.
The cast, though sincere, are unable to enliven their characters. They emote perfunctorily and are incapable of injecting palpable emotions.
Overall, with moderate production values, “Incarnate” is a suspense-free horror drama that will appeal only to crazed horror genre fans.