Released By: Universal
March 7, 2017
Aaron Eckhart, Carice van Houten, Catalina Sandino Moreno, David Mazouz
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When Doctor Seth Ember (Aaron Eckhart) is involved in a late-night collision with a drunk driver, the worst thing that happens is not that he loses his ability to walk. It's not even that his wife and son are killed. No, the low point of the evening is that the drunk driver...Maggie...is actually a woman possessed by a demonic entity that feels the need to rub the accident in Seth's face, setting him on a lifelong course of being a reluctant exorcist. But Seth doesn't become your run-of-the-mill, rosary and holy water waving devil driver, he instead realizes that he has the ability to mind-meld with victims of possession when he puts himself into a sleep state, allowing him to rescue the innocent and kill the entities.
The science may be suspect, but Seth has realized by "diving" into these minds that the entities are actually parasites who entertain the thoughts of their victims with their deepest desires, while feeding on their vitality. By confronting the victims in their own brains, Seth can show them the truth and push the demon from their body, freeing them from the possession. But as many dives as he engages in with his team of gothy-looking assistants, Seth can't shake the taunting of the malevolent being he calls "Maggie", and his slow descent into self-destruction gains speed exponentially as his determination to find her increases.
A break finally arrives in the form of Camilla (Catalina Sandino Moreno) a representative from the Vatican, who tells Seth that she believes that she's found Maggie, in the form of a young boy named Cameron. Pushing his disdain for the Catholic Church and religion aside, Seth and his team agree to meet with the boy in the apartment that he shares with his mother; and the suspicion that this is indeed Maggie are confirmed almost immediately when Cameron speaks the same words that Maggie did on that fateful night. But saving the boy and killing the entity will not be easy, as Seth finds out when he encounters Cameron's demon dad in a park that Cameron has locked himself into, and finds his entrails ripped out. With only eight minutes of safe dive time permitted, Seth heads back in to do battle with Maggie in a creepy setting that may guarantee that he will not return.
Flawed as the execution of the science is, the writers of Incarnate have, at the very least, attempted to present the overdone exorcism genre...rivaled only by zombies in the world of DTV...in a different way that doesn't involve crucifixes and vomiting. And the attempt, aside from a somewhat useless side story involving the harvesting of blood, does contain the thought-provoking potential to make for a good film. Setting up Seth's backstory and then having him dwell in the fantasies of the victims, doing battle with demons in an idealistic setting offers the potential for a huge number of opportunities, but they're sadly squandered here. Instead, Incarnate chooses to spend much of its time in the real world, where normally very solid actor Aaron Eckhart spits out raspy dialogue while avoiding eye contact, apparently in this just for the paycheck. The previously mentioned side story drags the film down too much, and sends Seth in unnecessary directions, leaving the core of the film with too many unanswered questions. Why is Camilla interested in destroying Maggie? Why is the Vatican so interested in the possession of Cameron? By attempting to cover so many bases, Incarnate leaves itself thin throughout.
Incarnate also falls prey to the standard, cookie-cutter method found in so many modern horror films, relying on amplified stingers and jump scares instead of real terror, and using an annoyingly overbearing score to signal when the viewer should be feeling dread instead of attempting to create real atmosphere. Which is a shame, because there are a few moments where Director Brad Peyton shows that he has the potential to pull off a genuine horror film, ambiance that is quickly shat upon by yet another music cue. Incarnate does have its odd moment of cool, such as a brutal, unexpected bone snap, but that standardized horror template, coupled with a brutally obvious ending, leaves the viewer uinspired and underwhelmed.
Incarnate comes to Blu-ray (with additional DVD and HD Digital Download) in a 2.40:1 AVC-encode that looks good. Nighttime and dim bedroom scenes, which dominate the film, maintain clarity and detail, without crushing the blacks or presenting other artifacting. Daylight scenes are dazzling with colour and really pop without oversaturation.
Audio is provided via an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, with English Descriptive Video Service on the Theatrical Cut only. While dialogue is clear and consistent throughout and can be found front and centre where it belongs, the film relies heavily (and I mean heavily) on the surrounds and sub to carry a dominant score and jump scare stingers and a level that will not be described as subtle. Still, it's an immersive track that lacks any distortion or hiss, and for the most part is well balanced. English Subtitles for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing are also available.
The Extras menu contains one real supplement (the option to view the unrated cut here, which works out to about a minute of extra running time, is also available from the main menu), the Making Of Incarnate (7:11). An extended EPK, this features Jason Blum as well as cast and other crew talking about the movie and their roles, and shooting on a short schedule. Clips from the film play throughout.
The Final Word:
Incarnate offers up a somewhat unique take on a somewhat tired genre, but relies too much on the cheap jump scares and an ineffective score instead of building genuine atmosphere and dread.
Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!
carice van houten,
catalina sandino moreno,
- DVD And Blu-ray Reviews G-M