2016, PG-13, 91 min. Directed by Brad Peyton. Starring Carice van Houten, Aaron Eckhart, David Mazouz.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Dec. 9, 2016
Another day, another lackluster possession of a little kid by the devil. Can’t the Vatican do something to halt the spread of dismal cinematic spook shows like Incarnate? The Exorcist’s Father Karras must be spinning in his grave (or at least his head is).
Director Peyton takes a breather from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and B-grade action/disaster movies (San Andreas, the Journey … franchise) with this incoherent mashup of previous demonized tyke films and unfailingly inept pseudo-science and the result is about as devoid of suspense, much less genuine horror, as this specific sub-genre can be.
Thankfully, Aaron Eckhart seems wholly committed to his role as Dr. Seth Ember, a wheelchair-bound not-an-exorcist who is nonetheless called upon by Rome (in the form of Vatican liaison Moreno) to take a stab at casting out an arch-demon who has taken control of 11-year-old Cameron (Mazouz). Ember’s game? He enters into the mind of the possessed boy and cries havoc, unleashing the power of science against the power of faith. Ember’s met this particular type of hellion before – it’s the reason he’s in that darned chair – and he’s got a score to settle, so he enters Cameron’s mind with all guns blazing, but unfortunately firing duds. Inception-esque mental chaos ensues, complete with gravity-free demoniacs and gravitas-free filmmaking. Hokey doesn’t begin to cover all the faux-scientific gobbledygook presented here, as screenwriter Ronnie Christensen (of Halle Berry vs. shark Dark Tide infamy) piles clunky exposition upon even clunkier dialogue. Admittedly, some of the cerebral action is a kick to watch, as Ember goes trolling through an 11-year-old’s brainpan on a search and destroy mission, but apart from that Incarnate should disincarnate as soon as possible.