Thus far critics seem to have been beating the devil out of Blumhouse Production’s most recent release. For what reason seems a little unclear though? If your sole criteria for whether a horror movie succeeds or fails is based on if it is scary or not perhaps critics have a point. If you make it to the theater for this one and you are the sole person there (like this reviewer was) it may get a jump or three out of you, otherwise no, it’s not especially scary. The films cliched, derivative, and the plots a bit jumbled. Why people went in expecting much better, though, seems odd. Incarnate is a Blumhouse picture, despite the added star power of Aaron Eckhart, decent to good B movies are what the studio is mostly known for.
Director Brad Peyton’s filmography also gave little reason to expect a work that rivaled the Exorcist or anything. Lastly seeing WWE Studios as a production partner should have told people exactly what they were in for. As such, if your horror standards are quite high you should give this a pass. If you’re a big WWE fan you may also want to pass on this one. Despite being a production partner wrestler Mark Henry is barely in this. However if you’re a fan of stuff like Supernatural, Constantine ,or Buffy/Angel you may well have some fun.
The film really feels like it was based on a comic, book series, or tv show given how much mythology and back story are involved. If you’ve not seen the trailer Aaron Eckhart plays a doctor/ scientist whose wife and son died as a result of a demonic possession. In order to get his revenge Eckhart’s character turns mostly to science rather than religion. From there the film builds some interesting mythology. In the world of the film the Vatican is deeply involved with ridding the world of demons but the classical methods of exorcism are messy and often seem to result in the death of those possessed.
As a result Eckhart turns to science to develop a more effective method of ridding the victim of what he sees as more of a parasite then demon from hell. Eckhart’s method involves medically inducing a state of near death in order to enter the possessed mind and in his words “evict” them from the inside. Along the way he’s helped by two metalhead lab assistants. After performing a dozen or so evictions the Vatican requests his help saving a boy who may, or may not be possessed by the same entity that killed Eckhart’s family. From there the two match wits with the demon tending to have the upper hand.
It seems Eckhart desperately wants to be in a successful action horror movie because despite his last attempt I, Frankenstein being a critical flop and barely making back its budget he does his damnedest to make the film work. The consensus seems to be that he falls short, but if you know what you’re going into it’s a fun enough flick. Eckhart makes for a compelling enough lead and his contrasting appearances going from scruffy and wheelchair bound in the real world to Eckhart’s typical good looks in the minds of the victims is a good touch. It’s also very satisfying to watch Eckhart beat the hell out of the possessed boy’s father, despite his handicap. As for the rest of the cast they vary from subpar to passable. Keir O’Donnell makes for a decent sidekick to Eckhart, and David Mazouz from Gotham is no Linda Blair but he does well enough.
That being said the plots predictable, and characters make all the stupid mistakes you would expect them to in a not so great horror flick. If you go in with mild expectations it’s an enjoyable enough watch, and it’s fairly likely in a year or two when it hits Netflix you’ll hear a lot of people say “You know that horror movie with the guy that played Harvey Dent isn’t that bad.”