HTS Moderator , Reviewer
HTS Overall Score:68
Blumhouse productions’ claim to fame is the all famous “Paranormal Activity” films. You know, the ones where a shaky handy cam is set up all around a house bathed in darkness and people get scared at bumps in the night? The movie that spawned half a dozen sequels (almost) that are just as inane and non-scary as the original? Well, the studio decided after that to continue with cheap, low budget horror films and have churned out quite a number of titles since their success with “Paranormal Activity” in back in 2009. There’s been some hits, like the “Insidious” trilogy, or “The Gift”, and the “Purge” moneymakers, but many of their titles head directly to DVD where they are mostly ignored for the drek they are. Sometimes they get a wide budget release, and sometimes they don’t, but for they all have one thing in common. A shoestring budget and a recycled plot line. “Incarnate” is the latest in this long list, and one of the rare ones that actually got a theatrical release (for who knows what reason) despite being one of the middling entries into the horror studio’s lineup.
“Incarnate” is a clone of one of the most successful demonic possession movies ever, “The Exorcist”. That’s not an immediate point against the flick, as there are literally hundreds of clones considering how wildly popular and highly regarded “The Exorcist” is. However, it’s the execution and derivativeness of the film that pulls it down a bit. Dr. Seth Ember (Aaron Eckhart) was once a normal family man, that is until a demon named “Maggie” killed his wife and child due to his ability to invade the mind of a possessed person that the good Dr. has been hiding. Now Dr. Ember is confined to a wheelchair and uses his powers to hunt down and exorcise demons from the possessed. However, he has a slightly ulterior motive as well. Not only is he making ends meet by performing exorcisms, but he is slowly tracking down and trying to find Maggie in an effort to avenge his wife and son’s death.
Slumming it with a pair of hipster assistants, Dr. Ember gets his big break when the Vatican sends one of their demon hunters to him in order to enlist his aid in expelling a demon from an 11-year-old child named Cameron (David Mazouz). Originally not interested, Dr. Ember’s opinion changes when the demon hunter informs him that they believe the arch demon that he nicknamed “Maggie” is the one possessing the child. With a vial of ancient demon blood “serum” that he and another hunter have concocted, Dr. Embers embarks upon what may be his last hunt yet. The problem is, even though he knows what to do, and what he MUST do, Maggie is an arch-demon. One of the most powerful in existence, and he’ll need more than a little help to expel her and get rid of the spirit once and for all.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=92842[/img]For being such a low budget horror film from the wonders of Blumhouse Productions, “Incarnate” isn’t really that bad. It’s a fairly derivative film that borrows from “The Exorcist”, “Amityville Horror” and “The Omen”, but it’s a fairly unassuming flick that works with the most basic of plots. Keeping the movie in one room for a majority of the time is great way to maximize the budget without sacrificing actors or effects, but “Incarnate” doesn’t exactly stretch the imagination with the horrors inside Cameron’s mind. There’s a few sequences of ooey gooey horror, but most of the time this is strictly a PG-13 affair with limited budget constraints.
I can’t give writer Ronnie Christensen too much fault with the mediocre results of the movie as the script isn’t half bad. It’s a bit expository without saying much at all, but still a fairly competent script. Much of the fault lies on Brad Peyton’s directing (you know, the guy who brought us the masterpiece “San Andreas”), as he clumsily handles much of the drama and leaves us feeling a bit cheated with the ending. Even the big face off with “Maggie” is kind of lackluster as the special effects budget seems to have been shot by the time the final encounter occurs. We barely get a glimpse of her arms and legs before we’re back to the real world for a cheap faceoff that really feels a bit like a letdown.
I’m honestly not sure how Blumhouse Productions got Aaron Eckhart. The guy really knows how to act and has made enough academy award winning material that you’d expect his manager to choose better roles for him. Instead he’s stuck with this middle of the road, bloodless, horror flick that has you scratching your head asking the question “why?” to yourself. David Mazouz actually does a nice job with Cameron and Matt Nable’s cameo as Cameron’s father is pretty heartfelt (besides the obvious fate that awaits him).
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of horror violence, terror, disturbing images, brief strong language, sensuality and thematic elements
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=92850[/img]“Incarnate” doesn’t have any public info on what cameras were used for the shoot, but I’d personally guess we’re looking at a digital production. The image is fairly drab and teal tinged, with hints of green in there for good measure. The colors are naturally desaturated and we’re left with lots of black and bits of deep red for good measure. Shadows are a bit dingy and while there’s good detail both in and out of the shadows the image is just never standout exemplary. You can definitely tell that its intentional though, as there is a scene near the very end where Dr. Ember wakes up next to his alive wife and son where there is crystal clarity and lots of wonderfully saturated colors. I detected some banding here and there in the shadowy light, but other than that there’s no major artifacting to see.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=92858[/img]Similar to the video, the audio is quite good, although never really GREAT, if you know what I mean. A bass heavy affair (as a lot of horror movies are), there are some really great moments throughout the watch where the subs really kicked it up a notch. The club scene near the beginning has a nice heavy beat to it, and the intense score utilizes quite a few thuds to get its tone across. Dialog is pretty standard with good vocal replication and a nice wide front soundstage. The surrounds don’t get as much work as you’d expect, but that’s mainly due to the fact that the movie takes place in single room for a majority of the time and there’s not a whole lot of action going on. Inside the dream world it gets a bit more active and the surrounds get to flex their muscles a bit with the demonic battles.
• The Making of Incarnate
• Unrated Cut
“Incarnate” is NOT high quality horror, and despite the incredibly predictable plot and cookie cutter ending, I’m embarrassed to say that I kind of liked the movie. The cast does pretty well with the limited tools they have available, but if you’re not looking for a mindless waste of time then you might be less enthused than this horror fan. Audio and video are up to mar with modern day new releases, but the extras are once again more than a little lackluster. Even the advertised “unrated” cut of the film really isn’t that much difference than the theatrical cut. In my opinion, it’s probably very low rental material.
Starring: Aaron Eckhart, Carice Van Houten, David Mazouz
Directed by: Brad Peyton
Written by: Ronnie Christensen
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Runtime: 87 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: March 7th, 2017
Buy Incarnate On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Cheesy Rental
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