Synopsis: After a mother witnesses terrifying symptoms of demonic possession in her 11-year-old son (David Mazouz), a Vatican representative calls on wheelchair-bound scientist Dr. Seth Ember (Aaron Eckhart) to rid him of the evil spirit. Driven by a personal agenda rooted in his own tragic past, Ember enters the boy’s unconscious mind where he confronts a demon as ferocious as it is ingenious.
Desolately Short Opinion: Not just another possession flick. Incarnate offers a fresh spin on old ideas & manages to keep you gripped before ultimately running out of steam.
Desolately long opinion…
While we certainly had our fair share of demons, possessions and priest films over the last 20 years, every now and then you find something new brought to the table. Incarnate attempted to do exactly that and brought us some new concepts without disturbing our core film based mythology around exorcism too much. It’s not exactly the best film out there and does lack quite a bit in certain areas but I can appreciate what they tried to do and ended up accomplishing with this film in the end.
Incarnate stole a lot from other films and sources but interestingly enough, doesn’t attempt to pass any of it off as its own. I think this is where the film really hits a clever note. It builds upon well-established lore and stories from films we’ve all seen and know very well. Incarnate manages to deliver its own little one-two punch right where it counts. It not only mixes itself in with the greats of days past but tosses you the very unreligious perspective of Ember, the central character who believes Demonic Possession is actually attributed to a parasitic organism.
Overall, I enjoyed this film despite some forgivable flaws in key areas and I will definitely watch it again.
What the critics had to say…
With a tiny budget of a mere $5 million, Incarnate went on to make a total of $9 million before leaving the cinema. While Incarnate is generally considered unsuccessful due to poor online ratings, amusingly enough, 76% of users who watched the film and rated it on Google liked it. This is in sharp contrast with Rotten Tomatoes where it holds a mere 15% or on Metacritic where it has a measly 30%.
Apparently, the general opinion is that you cannot have an exorcism movie without dominant religious themes being ever present. It would seem that most critics feel Incarnates attempt at originality is, in fact, its greatest flaw. I’m not really sure what people want here exactly. We’ve had many exorcism movies with religious themes, all of which were accused of being unoriginal. Incarnate comes out with something original and people aren’t happy because it’s not the same as all the other exorcism-themed movies? Bitch, please.
What we liked in particular…
- Demons are presented as more of a disease/parasite/organism than anything religious.
- Aaron Eckard’s character (Ember) is troubled enough to be realistic.
- Psychics mentally fighting demons in people’s minds is very original.
- The overall atmosphere of the film is great.
- There aren’t any Priests shouting bible verses while being vomited on.
- Almost no jump scares and there’s a heavy reliance on story and dialogue.
What we didn’t like so much…
- The concept of demons is overused and old by now even with a new angle.
- The demons have black eyes and seem to be directly ripped from Supernatural.
- Maggie, the main villain seems to have no motivation or reasoning at all.
- The film gets easily confused with its own ruleset and universe and the plot becomes too easy to guess.
- Carice van Houten is more creepy looking than the actual demon.
- We never really get to see the demons true form.
What we would have liked…
- Young Ember undergoing training with his mentor.
- Some of Young Ember’s cases and experiences & meeting his team.
- A little backstory for each of his two team members.
- More elaboration on the demons and their motivations.
- More elaboration on The Vatican and how they manage to handle a demon if it is indeed a disease/parasite/organism.
- Other perspectives and more demons.
- Less confusion about the actual rules and what a Demon can and cannot do in relation to humans and the laws of nature.
Some fun facts about real exorcism…
- The concept of Exorcism & Possession dates back to Ancient Greece and the story of Epicurus & Aeschines.
- The word exorcism comes from the Greek word ‘exorkismos’ – binding by oath.
- The Vatican has guidelines on exorcism which were first laid out in the year 1614.
- Exorcism is performed worldwide within dozens of vastly different religions and cultures.
- Psychiatry’s view on “possession” is that the symptoms experienced are likely due to physical or mental illnesses such as hysteria, mania, psychosis, Tourette’s syndrome, epilepsy, schizophrenia or dissociative identity disorder.
- Demonomania/Demonopathy is an actual mental condition where a person believes he or she is possessed.
- There is a version of exorcism targeted entirely upon removing homosexual demons from LGBT people.
- The films, The Exorcist, The Exorcism Of Emily Rose and Requiem are all based on the true story of Anneliese Michel.
So is Incarnate worth a watch or not?
Definitely worth a watch. Not too scary, not too loud and not too boring.
Incarnate is a pretty decent watch that grips you almost all the way through to the end. It’s a solid addition to the Horror Genre and definitely one to watch on Halloween or on a cold winter night when you’re all alone at home. This film will stay with you for awhile after watching it with its original concept and Matrix-like story style. Like Insidious & The Conjuring, I hope Incarnate spawns an entire series of films and doesn’t just stay bound to this single entry of an obviously larger story waiting to be told.
What gives me hope is the fact that there was an open end for a sequel in the film and I can only hope that we get to see more of Ember. His fight is clearly not over yet.
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