From the plot description of The Incantation, I believed I was in for a decent story involving thrilling elements and interesting characters, however, nothing could’ve prepared me for what it actually was.
Synopsis: In this picturesque paranormal thriller, a young American girl, Lucy Bellerose, has a chance of a lifetime to visit her ancestors ominous castle in the south of France. However, things are not as they seem as she finds that her family is hiding deep, dark secrets about their nefarious past, far away from prying eyes. Unbeknownst to Lucy, the region is also home to centuries of witchcraft and occult folklore. After meeting the strident Vicar of Borley, and her socially awkward Chambermaid, Mary, Lucy begins to question her place in the family. Abel Baddon, a devilishly handsome traveling salesman, tries to assuage her fears and soothe her reluctance. However, only after meeting a charming gravedigger named J.P. does she begin to feel at ease. He navigates her through the twists and turns of the murky waters of her family’s past, eventually uncovering shocking revelations. (Gravitas Ventures)
Starring: Sam Valentine, Dean Cain, and Dylan Kellogg
Writer: Jude S. Walko
Director: Jude S. Walko
Running Time: 98mins
There’s a moment in the second act of The Incantation where the protagonist, Lucy Bellerose drops a “That’s what she said” joke at the end of her conversation with her potential love interest that manages to be so out of place and strange that you can’t help but to go back and make sure that the line was actually said. This was notable not because it’s funny per se, but more as an example of the exact depth that The Incantation reaches in its storytelling. It’s painfully clear within the first scenes that this movie is sub-par at best and was made on an extremely tight budget that affects the film in a negative way.
The story follows Bellerose, a 20-something girl who travels to her recently deceased great uncle’s home in order to pay her respects and receive her inheritance. In doing so, she is introduced to several questionable characters that inhabit the house; a vicar, a maid, and an insurance salesman, all who live in the house without explanation. Through much-wasted screentime, Lucy is introduced to the notion that everything is not what it seems and her family harbors a dark secret that is slowly becoming imposed upon her the longer she stays in the house.
While the story admittedly seemed semi-intriguing on paper, in actuality, the end result was less than ideal. The film’s pacing varies wildly changing from slow-moving dialogue between characters to frantic chase sequences. There are long stretches where nothing really happens which causes the viewer to lose interest. This is a problem that the film seems to realize and yet does nothing to remedy for much of its runtime.
The acting is also a major setback, however, much of that blame is more accurately placed upon the script. Sam Valentine, who plays Lucy, seems more than capable to carry the film but is continually let down by a poorly written script of which she tries to elevate but can only do so much. She is also stunted by her supporting cast who gives her very little to play off of through scenes of dialogue. This causes a lack of rhythm between actors that is painful to witness during most of the film. Outside of Valentine, Dean Cain as Abel Baddon is also a welcome change of pace to the mediocrity as you can easily identify that he is doing the best he can with what he’s given. Truthfully, he’s better than this movie and should’ve chosen to add another Hallmark Christmas movie to his resumé rather than this film, but here we are.
In the end, The Incantation is nothing more than a hollow attempt at making a thriller with no thrill. It suffers from a poor script, supporting cast, plot, and lacks imagination and variance for its cinematography and camerawork which leads to a bland product. Its depth and development are easily measured by its delivery of the aforementioned, “That’s what she said” joke which is the exact moment that I almost turned it off and walked away. Simply put, The Incantation could have been better. The framework of a decent movie was there but it lacked imagination and the subtle flourishes that would’ve made it truly stand out or even become tolerable.