July 26, 2018 The Incantation (Movie Review)
Released on DVD and Blu-Ray Tuesday, July 24, 2018 through Gravitas Ventures, The Incantation is a familiar story that is an amalgamation of several Horror and Gothic story tropes. Unfortunately, it barely holds together as it stumbles through some wooden performances, shoddy dialogue, and poor editing. The Horror genre has always suffered from a sizable amount of derivative stories, but the films that rise above the tropes do so by taking them in new, unique directions. The Incantation does not go through with that and leaves the audience holding what is left – a confusing film that does not deliver the satisfaction of a well-thought-out story. So where did it go wrong?
Written and directed by Jude S. Walko (Hobro Vlogs series, HOBOrculosis 2014), The Incantation follows a young American woman named Lucy Bellerose, played by Sam Valentine (Cruel Intentions 2016, Trace 2015), who travels to her ancestral castle in the French countryside to attend the funeral of her recently deceased great uncle. Upon arrival, she is immediately greeted by a very odd, impatient holy man calling himself the Vicar of Borley. Along with him is the maid, Mary, played by Beatrice Orro, who is equally odd. Soon after, Lucy meets a traveling insurance salesman played Dean Cain (Lois and Clark series, God’s Not Dead 2014) – all three are clearly hiding something together and Lucy has a part to play in it.
It is hard to describe the plot of the movie without spoilers, but it is very much in the vein of a classic Gothic story, where an heir to a sprawling castle or mansion plays the fish out of water while discovering some dark family secret. Lucy’s only help throughout is a local, charming gravedigger, Jean-Pierre, played by Dylan Kellogg. As Lucy and Jean-Pierre delve through the mystery, the story introduces several unexplainable and unresolved plot points that are never reconciled and leave the ending nothing short of convoluted.
It is surprising to see Dean Cain here, an actor who is a lot better than the material. He is clearly the most experienced actor here and is the only one who fits comfortably into his role, story and dialogue notwithstanding. The Vicar is played by Walko and his dialogue ranges from amusingly ridiculous to cringe worthy and it is impossible to take him seriously. Orro is wooden and deadpan but it does not hurt the film that much because she has a limited role, but as the main antagonist, the Vicar falls short of what is needed.
Sam Valentine’s performance is a mixed bag. Lucy goes through a transition of instantly unlikable to vulnerable heroine without much notice, and Valentine does well enough in both phases much of the time, but there are a lot of missed spots. This could be due to the bad editing, which has some glaringly obvious continuity errors, and has many scenes that would be better off with two actors in them as solo scenes cut together. She has some bright moments though, and it would be good to see what she can do with better material in more experienced hands.
The best thing about the film is the set locations. The French countryside is absolutely stunning – The castle, woods, local streets and tavern, as well as catacombs are authentic and add a desperately needed element of tangibility to the movie. There is some good camerawork, especially with the long, scenic shots of the estate and surrounding areas that are worth looking at.
Sadly, there is not much to recommend about The Incantation. Had the story ended coherently it would have saved the many problems the film has. Unfortunately, it never comes around and the end will likely leave viewers questioning if the ride was worth it. That is why CrypticRock gives The Incantation 2 out of 5 stars.