PLOT: A wheelchair-bound scientist with the ability to infiltrate the minds of the evilly possessed must confront a dark entity to save a little boy and mend his own scarred past.
REVIEW: In case one wondered what the frontrunner for the 2016 Razzie in the category of worst horror film of the year ought to be, allow us to confidently nominate Brad Peyton's lamely infantile and risibly tame new movie INCARNATE, starring Aaron Eckhart and Carice van Houten, as the one to beat. This movie is flat out terrible. Of course, what might one expect from the director of such classic cinematic outings as CATS & DOGS: REVENGE OF KITTY GALORE, JOURNEY TWO: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND and SAN ANDREAS. And teamed with the writer behind such comparable winners as PASSENGERS (the Anne Hathaway one) LOCKED IN and DARK TIDE. Quite the pedigree of ineptitude. The result? An indigestibly undercooked, un-scary, poorly executed PG-13 derivation of every exorcism movie over the last 40 odd years, with a tinge of mind-game thrillers like DREAMSCAPE stirred in to make it all go down a bit easier. It doesn't. INCARNATE? Please, more like incompetent. Incorrigible. Inchoate for the downfall of horror cinema as we know and adore it!
Dr. Seth Ember (Eckhart) has been saddled in a wheelchair after an auto accident left him crippled and his wife and son dead. Ever since, he's vowed to use the powers he discovered in his twenties (and kept hidden from his family) to infiltrate the subconscious minds of the malevolently possessed and rid them of their parasitic entities. Not demons, mind you, demonic semantics are reserved for the church. Ember doesn't abide by church law, he doesn't exorcise demons by externally compelling them by the power of God, no, he evicts the evil spirits internally, from inside the mind of the infected. Turns out he's been mounting a vendetta against one such entity, called Maggie, who was directly responsible for the car accident that has left him so physically and emotionally bereft. More asinine yet, Maggie has now taken refuge in the mind of a little boy named Cameron (David Mazouz), whom Ember reluctantly opts to treat. Cameron lives with his clueless mother (Carice van Houten), fearful of his abusive alcoholic father Dan (Matt Nable) who broke his arm not too long prior. By helping Cameron, get it, Ember will help himself.
Along to sway Ember to save Cameron is a pleasant sight, but not a redeeming merit, in the form of Catalina Sandino Moreno. She's been sent from the Vatican archdiocese in order to coax Ember to perform an exorcism on Cameron. But we know he doesn't work that way. Instead, with the aid of his two strenuously alt-and-edgy lackeys Ilsa (Breanne Hill) and Oliver (Kier O'Donnell), Ember hooks up to a barrage of EKG and brain-scan monitors that track the malefic activity in the minds of the possessed. His goal is enter the victims' mind, during which time freezes, and persuade them to avert the evil and come back to the surface level of their consciousness. All the while, no one can touch the victims, as the "parasitic entities" can transfer to whomever they come in contact with. Ludicrous, right? Somewhere in the conception stage might have been a germ of a decent idea, one about a secular exorcist doing things his own way outside of the order of the church. Of course, this line is cowardly retreated in favor of a more rote religious set of circumstances likely meant to sate the safe, broad, PG-13 middle-American kiddie audiences the movie must be aimed toward.
Because honestly, this is not made for respectable horror fans. It can't be. In the way of thrills, chills, frights and bites, I can't think of a single scene in this movie that stands out as either original, scary, at all unnerving, or even remotely memorable. With such embarrassing lines of dialogue like "let the games begin" and "I've come too far...", the movie drew a smattering of ridiculous snickers among the 14 fellow attendees I sat in the dark with. Hell, this actually makes the tepid Exorcist TV series on Fox look like the '73 award winner by comparison. Speaking of comparisons, it's really quite striking to see Aaron Eckhart in something as woeful as this and as wonderful as SULLY only three months apart. Another laughable lament worth mentioning here though is, when seen in flashback, just how perfectly identical looking Cam and his mom are to Ember's dead wife Ana (Karolina Wydra) and son Jake (Emjay Anthony). As if the parallels weren't made explicit enough in the slew of exposition, we needed visual proof to make the connection as well. This movie is that obvious!
To beg, to plead, to implore...if you've attended AITH with any frequency over the years, trust, do not go see INCARNATE. Don't encourage it. It's dumb, dull, derivative and deeply undeserving of your time and energy. Hell, first time readers, you too avoid like the Zika. With the presence of Sandino Moreno, however thankless a role, and their brief flirtation with a cool idea in a secular exorcist doing things off-book as the only plaudits to halfheartedly bestow, there truly isn't much to see here. Wait for THE EYES OF MY MOTHER when it hits your town instead!