Incarnate (2016)

Genres - Horror, Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Supernatural Horror, Supernatural Thriller  |   Release Date - Dec 2, 2016 (USA)  |   Run Time - 91 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Blumhouse Productions' most recent endeavor, Incarnate, follows the surly Dr. Seth Ember (Aaron Eckhart), a man who uses Inception-like abilities and technologies to "dive" into the minds of the demonically possessed and relieve them of their diabolical parasites (in a nondenominational fashion). In the wake of a tragic accident that cost him his wife and son and left him confined to a wheelchair, Dr. Ember has dedicated his life to finding the demon responsible; along the way, he hopes to liberate as many cursed folks as possible. When an emissary from the Vatican (Catalina Sandino Moreno) informs him that a young boy named Cameron (Gotham's David Mazouz) is possessed by the same entity that once destroyed his own life, Ember goes to settle his score with the fiend, free Cameron, and face his greatest ordeal.

While Incarnate introduces a fascinating new take on demonic hauntings, the concept is too grand to really be explored in one of Blumhouse's characteristically low-budget offerings. Even still, the film's nondenominational, scientific approach to possession is intriguing, as demonstrated by a scene in which Ember and his two punk-rock assistants explain that the soul is a field of energy surrounding each person that can be overtaken by a demon's essence.

The most interesting parts of the movie are the dream sequences, but unfortunately, they're few and far between. Instead, the majority of this 91-minute thriller is made up of lagging, monotonous blocks of exposition. Several interest-piquing but skeletal subplots are introduced and then inexplicably left to languish, making it a wonder that they were included at all; for example, Ember's mentor has used his fortune to create a lab where he can study possessed individuals and learn more about the demons that haunt them -- sadly, we learn next to nothing about this place, as it is used simply as a shoddy plot device and is never fully explored.

The multiple, gaping plot holes beg such a huge leap of faith on the part of the audience that it detracts from the experience. On a positive note, Eckhart acts his heart out as the jaded, haggard Dr. Ember, and his total commitment to this project helps sell the film. It is also nice to see Game of Thrones darling Carice van Houten out of her fantasy-priestess role. With better storytelling, a slightly larger budget, and a runtime that's maybe ten minutes longer, this concept could have definitely gone somewhere unique. But as is, it ultimately falls flat.