[Screen It]


(2016) (Aaron Eckhart, Carice Van Houten) (PG-13)

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Horror: A man with a tragic past enters the subconscious of an 11-year-old to kill the demonic entity that possesses the boy.
At the age of 26, Seth Ember (AARON ECKHART) discovered that he was able to enter the subconscious minds of others. But when he tried to get away from that and lead a normal life -- including getting married and having a son -- a car accident left them dead and him wheelchair bound. To make matters worse, a demonic entity known as Maggie was responsible, and since then Seth has used his ability to evict such entities from those they possess, rather than use traditional exorcism tactics, all while hunting down the Maggie demon.

Having his reputation precede him, Vatican representative Camilla Marquez (CATALINA SANDINO MORENO) has approached him to help rid Cameron Sparrow (DAVID MAZOUZ) of a demon she believes might be the Maggie one. Cameron is an 11-year-old boy who lives with his mom, Lindsay (CARICE VAN HOUTEN), what with her having a restraining order on her husband, Dan (MATT NABLE), for previously breaking the boy's arm.

With his team -- Oliver (KEIR O'DONNELL) and Riley (EMILY JACKSON) -- helping set things up, Seth has his vitals throttled down to near death level to give him an eight-minute window to enter Cameron's subconscious where the demon has the boy held in a dream he believes is reality. His first encounter, however, has Seth realize this might be his toughest eviction yet. Determined to kill the Maggie demon once and for all, he prepares for his return visit.

OUR TAKE: 3 out of 10
Our reviewing policy for films that aren't shown in advance to critics is that we'll only provide a paragraph or two about the film's artistic merits or, more accurately, lack thereof. After all, life is too short to spend any more effort than that on a movie that even the releasing studio knows isn't any good (which is why they hid it from reviewers before its release).

I don't know who started it or when, but a common gesture nowadays is to pretend you're holding a microphone in your outstretched arm and then drop it to the floor. It's a way of saying something along the lines of "It doesn't get any better than that" and "Your turn to try to beat that."

With that in mind, there should have been a collective mic drop by everyone involved in the making of "The Exorcist." And that's because in the 43 years since it was released, no film has come close to matching the excellence and true creepiness of that demonic possession film. Many have tried and all have failed.

You can now throw "Incarnate" onto that pile of cinematic failures, not only because it comes nowhere close to the greatness of that 1973 film, but also due to not being a good or even solid horror flick. The twist here is that the "exorcist" (Aaron Eckhart, all long hair and unshaven to signal his character doesn't give a damn anymore) is really a self-proclaimed evictor. But rather than do the standard holy water and Bible passage routine, he enters the subconscious mind of those possessed, a plot tactic borrowed from the likes of "Dreamscape," "Inception" and other far better films.

I like Eckhart as an actor, but he's left high and dry by the script from Ronnie Christensen (that also introduces but never really explains the use of various minor characters), while the direction by Brad Peyton offers few effective or genuine scares. And when it has a character indirectly reference some signature moments from "The Exorcist," you'll only be reminded of how great that film was and that this one doesn't even deserve to have the microphone in its hand. "Incarnate" rates as a 3 out of 10.

Reviewed December 1, 2016 / Posted December 2, 2016

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