Incarnate

For F*** Magazine

INCARNATE 

Director : Brad Peyton
Cast : Aaron Eckhart, David Mazouz, Carice Van Houten, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Matt Nable, Carolina Wydra, Emjay Anthony
Genre : Horror/Thriller
Run Time : 1h 31min
Opens : 1 December 2016
Rating : PG13 (Horror and Some Coarse Language)

incarnate-posterWhatever you do, don’t call Dr. Seth Ember (Eckhart) an ‘exorcist’. What others call ‘demons’, he calls ‘parasitic entities’. It’s all strictly scientific, and Ember isn’t affiliated with any religious organisation. When the Vatican sends Dr. Camilla Marquez (Moreno) to engage his services, Ember wants nothing to do with it. However, he is enticed by the possibility that the case is connected to the death of his wife and son, the same apparent accident that left him paralysed from the waist down. 11-year-old Cameron Sparrow (Mazouz) is possessed by an arch-demon. His recently-divorced parents Lindsay (Van Houten) and Dan (Nable) fear for their son’s life, as it becomes obvious that something evil has taken him over. Ember must dive into Sparrow’s subconscious to forcibly oust the entity, but will his own demons get the better of him?

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Incarnate is the latest horror flick from producer Jason Blum of Blumhouse, who partnered with WWE Studios on this one. It’s easy to see why Blum was drawn to the project: what savvy producer would pass up a film with the logline “Inception meets The Exorcist”? Unfortunately, Incarnate is less than the sum of its parts.

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This reviewer’s interest was initially piqued by the psychological thriller spin put on the usual supernatural horror formula: Dr. Ember proclaims himself to be a man of science, adamant against running errands for the Vatican. The execution is clumsy, with Dr. Ember’s assistant Riley (Emily Jackson) uttering the line “each of us is like a wifi hotspot” in one of those “explain the technical concept to a layperson” exposition scenes. All the imagery associated with demonic possession – bodies flying across the room, pupils turning inky black, a deep spooky voice emanating from a child, and black acid spewed from the mouth – is stuff genre aficionados will find overly familiar.

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While Eckhart does invest effort in playing the haunted shell of a man that is Dr. Ember, the character never becomes more than a mere assemblage of clichés. He’s a shadow of his former self, shattered after the trauma of losing his family. Eckhart apparently went method, disguising himself as a wheelchair-bound, mentally ill war veteran to yell at passers-by at Venice Beach in California. We can’t say all that effort was worth it. There is a neat device here, though: when we see Ember in reality, he’s dishevelled, but when he enters his patients’ subconscious, he’s clean-shaven and has the use of his legs.

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Mazouz plays the creepy kid, bringing nothing new to the table. He’s a fine actor, but we’ve seen all the intense staring and glowing eyes before. This comes right on the heels of Ouija: Origin of Evil, in which Lulu Wilson made for a far scarier possessed child. DC Comics fans might find it amusing that Two-Face is exorcising young Batman, seeing as Mazouz plays Bruce Wayne on Gotham. As a bonus, Cameron’s dad is played by Ra’s al Ghul from Arrow. Yes, this is how we kept ourselves amused through the dullness of Incarnate.

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Both female leads are talented performers: we know Van Houten from Game of Thrones, and Moreno was nominated for an Oscar for Maria Full of Grace, her first film role. Neither gets very much to do, which can’t help but feel like a waste. Ember’s assistants Oliver (Keir O’Donnell) and Riley are supposed to add some personality to the proceedings, but they’re more than a little ridiculous. It’s as if director Brad Peyton thought that if Oliver had tattoos and Riley wore necklaces and a beanie, they’d automatically be hip and with it.

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Incarnate promises a mind-bending take on the supernatural horror formula, but has no tricks up its sleeves. The twist is easy to see through since it’s clear what the film’s influences are, and we get a cop-out ending as the cherry on top. Blumhouse is always on the hunt for a new horror franchise, but we hope they let this one lie. Then again, maybe they’ll pull an Ouija: Origin of Evil and make a killer follow-up.

Summary: You’ll leave the theatre thinking “we should have gone deeper”. Inception with demons should be a whole lot more gripping than this.

RATING: 2 out of 5 Stars

Jedd Jong

WarnerTV’s ‘Gotham’ launches villain hunt in Singapore

For F*** Magazine

WARNERTV’S GOTHAM LAUNCHES VILLAIN HUNT IN SINGAPORE

Gotham. It’s the city where legends are born and villains will rise. The highly-anticipated new TV show which is named after Batman’s hometown will arrive on our screens on September 25 via WarnerTV.
Set immediately after the parents of young Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) are brutally murdered, Gotham follows future-police Commissioner James Gordon (Ben McKenzie), a rookie new in town, and explores the genesis of the heroes and rogues comic book fans know and love. In the series, a teenage Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova), destined to become Catwoman, scampers about the streets of Gotham. Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith), soon to be known as the criminal genius The Riddler, is a brilliant forensic scientist at the Gotham Police Department with something of a mischievous streak. Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor), aka The Penguin, is the right-hand man of slinky mob boss Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith), biding his time to take a hold of the Gotham criminal underbelly for himself.

To promote the series in Singapore, WarnerTV is staging an island-wide scavenger hunt that focuses on The Penguin. The “Gotham Villain Hunt” will send fans on a quest in search of limited-edition Gotham-branded penguin statues, each measuring about a foot tall. Those who come into possession of these penguin statues can enter into a lucky draw to win a series of prizes ranging from exclusive branded premiums to high-end electronics. Fans will need to keep their eyes peeled and their minds sharp to track down these penguins, but they will have the assistance of hints (riddles, maybe?) provided via WarnerTV Asia’s and Starhub’s Facebook pages as well as on the Hot 91.3FM radio station. On social media platforms, the campaign will use the hashtag: #GothamOnWTV.

WarnerTV is bringing Gotham direct to Asia and the series debuts on Thursday, September 25 at 9pm, just two calendar days after it premieres in the US. Warner TV is available in Singapore only on channel 515 on StarHub.
Good luck, and as Cobblepot himself would put it, “squawk squawk squawk!”
– Jedd Jong