Jude S. Walko makes his directorial feature debut with the haunted castle horror flick The Incantation, which falls short in providing the scares.
Lucy Bellerose (Sam Valentine), an American social media celebrity, inherits a Medieval French castle from her estranged, late uncle. Immediately upon arriving, she is greeted by an idiosyncratic staff, strange hallucinations, and a sense that there’s something else not-quite-human in the castle.
The Incantation fails consistently to provide much entertainment. It’s slow, unpolished, and the atmosphere is frequently bizarre rather than creepy. The brightly-lit interiors of the bucolic castle in particular seem like an odd formal choice, among many others. A foreknowledge of filmmaking is conducive to a successful horror film (a genre that relies on effective manipulation and articulation of mood, timing, and sound than any other), and director Walko (who also plays the mysterious Vicar of Borley, a strange and sinister character who appears here-and-there but is played with more irony than probably desired) lacks the basic aesthetic instincts to pull this kind of film off.
In the most alarming warning sign, the film’s promotional material heavily plays up the presence of Dean Cain, a Trump-supporting has-been and TV’s former Superman. Cain is the only actor here who seems to have a sense of what kind of film he is in, but the remaining cast takes The Incantation far too seriously. The leading actress, Valentine, is at least partially convincing as a narcissistic millennial, but the cynicism the character has been imbued with in the writing process is too familiar in a genre that has been tackling generational flaws self-reflexively since Wes Craven’s Scream.
It’s hard to conceive of an audience for The Incantation. Not even those who ironically watch bad movies will find much to appreciate here.
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Mark Barber: @WorstCinephile