Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Taye Diggs, Jessica Uberuaga, Michael Madsen
Written by: Tyler Clair Smith, Isaac Walsh
Directed by: Isaac Walsh
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 89
Date: 02/18/2022
IMDB

Incarnation (2022)

1 Star (out of 4)

Summoning Problems

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

A doubly frustrating experience, Incarnation is one of those horror movies that never fully explains what's going on, and then the characters totally fail to use their heads, and make every possible mistake.

Jess (Jessica Uberuaga) and Brad (Taye Diggs) move into their spacious new Los Angeles home, their dreams of opening a brew pub close to becoming a reality. They have sold everything they have, and money is tight until they can find investors. As they settle in, they meet the slightly off-putting Peter (Michael Madsen), who inherited the house from his father, and is now their landlord.

As expenditures mount and no money comes in, Brad turns to a strange book and four gold coins they find in an old box. Brad begins performing occult rituals in the hopes that the couple will become successful, but little does he realize that there's a steep price.

Incarnation starts with some creepy shots of the house, a dome made of triangles, including two windows that look like jack-o-lantern eyes; unfortunately these shots repeat every few minutes throughout the movie, and the effect wears out. Then we meet our characters, good-looking dreamers, who seem to have not the faintest idea of how to get through life. Jess establishes her intelligence level by putting some food in a hot skillet, and then going upstairs to investigate the house's creepy room, and getting trapped inside as the food burns.

For his part, Brad — when he finds a strange old book filled with occult imagery — somehow decides to read an incantation out loud, which starts the trouble. But the trouble is... what? There's some kind of black jagged monster that seems to want blood, but how and why are never clear. Most of the important acts of violence occur offscreen, and, in addition to toning down the amount of blood, they also ramp up the confusion.

Madsen is the only highlight of Incarnation; director Isaac Walsh seems to have let him improvise, and he rasps his way through his scenes, with a dangling leather vest and a tangle of greasy hair under a cowboy hat. But even still, he seems bored and detached. "I don't like this," says Jess at one point. We agree.

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