I'm going to be saying "Would you believe?" so many times in this review that I feel I should give partial credit to Maxwell Smart.
INCARNATE does its best to provide the illusion of cool entertainment by putting the song "Sail" by AwolNation on both ends, so hopefully it will get you off to a good and receptive start; and when the song kicks in again for the end credits you'll forget everything that happened in between (or at least remember it as something worthwhile).
Aaron Eckhardt is Dr. Ember, who doesn't believe in religion but who DOES have a knack for evicting (NOT 'exorcising') parasitic abnormal entities from the psyches of those the Church would call 'possessed.' For that reason, the abnormalities don't particularly like Dr. Ember, so they took out his family while confining him to a wheelchair in the process. But when Ember's sharing a dream state with his possessed patients, he has his full motor skills. It's just that each such episode takes a LITTLE bit more out of him (as happens to any good psychic) and means the next one just may be the last.
Well, the Vatican comes calling with a boatload of cash. Seems there's an arch-demon that not even THEY can exorcise. Not interested, says Ember. "But it's Maggie." Yep, that's what he calls the entity that killed his family. Would you believe that Ember keeps the newspaper clipping regarding the fatal accident on his wall so we can read it for ourselves? Never seen THAT one before.
Maggie is now possessing an eleven-year-old boy named Cameron. And here's David Mazouz from GOTHAM in the role. Hey, I still love GOTHAM, but between this and THE DARKNESS, this kid had better hope he doesn't become the automatic kiss of death for any horror film he touches. The boy, naturally, has issues... would you believe one of them stems from the time that his alcoholic father accidentally broke his arm? Oh, but the ripoff parade started earlier--right at the beginning, when the possessed homeless woman slides across the ceiling to attack Cameron in a shot straight out of THE GRUDGE.
Ember DOES have one clergy-type friend who is also intensely studying demons. Would you believe he's even come up with a special serum that will give a possessed person ten seconds of mental clarity so that he might have a chance to 'do the right thing' at the right moment? Ember says he doesn't need that. He feels he knows his own dream world well enough... after all, there's a convenient glitch that freezes every timepiece in the world when you're dreaming, and not even Maggie can do anything to change that. "Hey, my watch stopped! That proves this is a dream--or that I'm possessed!" And once you start doubting the reality of your situation, the demons will give themselves away... see, their eyes turn black and they start speaking in a deep, gravelly voice. Never seen THAT one before.
Would you believe a supporting character gets battered to death and escorted out of the residence in a body bag via ambulance... but the police NEVER show up to check the incident out for themselves?
Would you believe that when it looks like we're gearing up for the final showdown that Ember has to put things on hold so he can make a special trip to pick up that 'moment of clarity' serum he didn't think he was going to need? Just so another isolated demonic incident can add running time to this story?
Would you believe that the best way out of possession STILL involves throwing yourself through a window???
Would you believe I just PAID to sit through this thing? Believe it. That's still what I do. And if any of you out there think I was much too easy on the preposterous (but still entertaining) SHUT IN, you need to see INCARNATE for yourselves to understand the difference. I just KNEW if I held out to the bitter end, I'd finally land the worst horror film of 2016. Mission accomplished.
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