GORE IN THE STORE
THE INCARNATION *
Directed by Isaac Walsh.
Starring Taye Diggs, Michael Madsen, Jessica Uberuaga, Rich Paul.
Horror, USA, 85 mins, cert 15.
Digital Download 7th March 2022 and DVD 21st March 2022 via 101 Films.
A good music cue is one that you can remember and one that puts you in mind of a certain film or scene as soon as you hear it, and it takes less than a minute of the camera whizzing through the empty house that is the setting for THE INCARNATION to put you in mind of AMITYVILLE II: THE POSSESSION; in fact, the short stab of violin strings being aggressively tickled isn’t so much similar to Lalo Schifrin’s classic score as it is a blatant copy, so we have an empty house with a sexy young couple moving in and a recognisable haunted house movie soundtrack to accompany it – we know where this is going.
And go there it does, as Brad (Taye Diggs) and his wife Jess (Jessica Uberuaga) move into their new home, a house owned by raspy-voiced Peter (Michael Madsen) and featuring some curiously placed windows that from a certain angle could look a bit like a face – seen that before somewhere. Anyway, despite the new digs the couple have a bit of a credit crisis as they are trying to start a business so Brad keeps a tight control of the finances, but Jess is desperate for a baby and is spending money they haven’t got on fertility treatment without telling her husband. If only there was a mysterious book containing ancient spells, some gold coins, a sacrificial knife and a pentagram for the greedy couple to discover in the back room where the door keeps slamming shut and locking itself. Well, as luck would have it, Peter’s dad designed and built the house and, apparently, he was into some weird stuff, so Brad and Jess try their luck with the black arts to help make their dreams come true. Guess what? It doesn’t go well.
Clearly filmed during lockdown as the cast is minimal and confined to the one location, THE INCARNATION is shot in a manner that suggests digital cameras with all the settings turned off were used as the image looks incredibly clean and yet features possibly the most uninteresting and drab colour pallet it is possible to create; maybe it is so white and beige so the filmmakers can splash bright red blood all over the place? Alas, this does not happen and neither does much else as our initially likeable couple turn into quite despicable cash-grabbers quickly. Well, Brad does at least, while Jess tries to remain rational as her husband – who has seen a bit of violence in his past, if the not-very-informative flashbacks tell us anything relevant at all – seems to turn him into a Tarantino-esque gangster who probably wouldn’t stand a chance against Michael Madsen if he was in his Mr. Blonde mode.
So, we have a silly plot, full of dumb set pieces – like Jess passing out due to smoke inhalation after about… ooh… ten seconds, even though she is on a different floor of the house and it’s only a small pan fire, hardly BACKDRAFT – and some daft black magic props that seem to have come a pirate gift shop, acted out enthusiastically but without any conviction. Michael Madsen is obviously the draw here and he does seem to be enjoying himself as he growls his way through some bland dialogue, clearly knowing that his name is the only reason anyone would be interested in this movie and not really giving two hoots. For her part, Jessica Uberuaga tries to add some depth to Jess by emoting about not being able to have children but when the script is this lame and the plot thread obviously an afterthought it would take an actor the likes of which we probably haven’t seen in our lifetimes to lift the dire script above being merely serviceable.
It goes without saying that THE INCARNATION is a terrible movie and not worth your time, even if you simply have to see every haunted house/possession movie released to disc. Had the makers stuck the word AMITYVILLE in the title it would have made more sense as that franchise – to which this movie pays various tributes - has had a seemingly endless line of rubbish supernatural movies released to no fanfare whatsoever since they stopped getting theatrical releases, and seeing Michael Madsen in an AMITYVILLE movie would maybe garner a bit of a rumbling of appreciation from certain quarters, but whatever it’s called, THE INCARNATION is still bad, and not even laughably so.