15 – 91mins – 2016
Inception meets The Exorcist in this barmy WWE Studios and Blumhouse co-produced paranormal Aaron Eckhart vehicle, which sees the usually trim and hunky London Has Fallen star grizzled-chopped, lank-haired and wheelchair-bound as Dr. Seth Ember, the sole survivor of a road accident which sets him on a mission to track down “Maggie,” the driver of the car which robbed him of the use of his legs, his wife and young son.
So far so dark, but at least the story is coherent…. Until I reveal that “Maggie” (note the inverted commas), insofar as a single-minded Seth believes, is not human but a demonic parasite that leaps from victim to victim and turns them into dead-eyed, Linda Blair cosplayers.
If that wasn’t wacky enough, the Vatican-wary Seth cures the poor saps unknowingly under parasitic control by lowering his heartrate until he is eight minutes from death, then enters the possessed person’s dreamscape to alert them to their danger and drive out the evil from within!
As high-concept as Incarnate’s supernatural set-up undoubtedly is, when Seth takes a few lines of screenwriter Ronnie Christensen’s dialogue to key the audience in it suddenly makes perfect – if audacious – sense. The problem is this elucidation comes halfway through the film! Christensen doesn’t help matters by making the first two acts as enigmatic, jumpy and bat-shit mysterious as possible, so in the opening scene young Cameron (David Mazouz) is being attacked by a ceiling-crawling tramp, in the next an able-legged, well-groomed Seth is helping a fat man outrun a demonic fitty in a club we are told doesn’t really exist!
San Andreas director Brad Peyton’s film is admirably out-there in reality-questioning scope, but to such an extent that it crippled (sorry) my emotional response to Dr. Ember’s mission-within-a-mission. I’m not even 100% certain that his “Maggie”-tracking arc is complete come the end credits! Sadly, although it made more than its $5million budget back, I don’t think Incarnate was enough of a success during its December US theatrical run to receive a follow-up.
CR@B’s Claw Score: