Horror films about possession are nothing new and each one that comes along either tries to be The Excorcist or attempts to do something a little different so that they are not just another movie trying to be The Excorcist. Thankfully, Incarnate is the latter and while it never ends up being the best film one will ever see about demons inhabiting the bodies of mankind, it ends up being better than one would think and tries to do something a little different along the way so that it might stand out from the pack.
Starring Aaron Eckhart as a broken man both in mind and body after the death of his family, he now helps to free those enslaved by demons. To do so, he not only exorcizes them, but does so by entering the mind of the victim and helps them to wake up, purging the demon in the process, evicting them from the body. It is a tough job, but his services are in demand and when called upon by a young mother looking to cure her son, he almost refuses until he discovers that it might have something to do with the loss of his loved ones.
It is the death of his wife and son that drives Eckhart’s character in the film, what little drive there is. Eckhart has always been a fine character actor, able to delve into his roles to make them believable, whether being a shyster salesman or portraying Harvey Dent. More than anything, it is Eckhart that carries this film, though Carice van Houten does a fair job of playing the distraught mother in a role that seems unsuited to her talents. While Eckhart’s persona might be one of best things about this film, it seems director Brad Peyton and writer Ronnie Christensen cannot seem to decide whether the man is a tragic figure, a hero or a bit of both. For the most part, it gravitates towards the middle and thankfully, Eckhart embraces the material to give a solid performance, more than making up for any faults found within.
Rounding out the film are some good special effects, a fair dose of blood and a few scares to be had both visceral and psychological. Many compare this film to Inception with its use of dream sequences and such when Eckhart enters the minds of the afflicted and perhaps there are leanings towards it, but there have been many horror films or movies from other genres that have featured scenes such as these, the Matrix immediately coming to mind among others. It does not necessarily make it an original concept, but it also adds to the picture more than it takes away from it.
At the end of the day, Incarnate set out to tell a story and it did so quite well. The way Eckhart ‘evicts’ the demons was smart and put a unique spin on a tired genre, changing things up just enough to keep the audience interested and making the film one to see for fans looking for a little different with their fright.
3.5 out of 5