Incantation (2022) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Incantation (2022) Review

Horrorific content by christina on July 11th, 2022 | Movie Review | Possession, Cursed, Supernatural, Cult, Single Mom, Mystery, Found Footage, Dangerous Exploration, Cursed Image

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It's about a woman whose happy reunion with her daughter is interrupted by the return of a curse that caused her great suffering years ago.

Incantation was directed by Kevin Ko (Invitation Only) and stars Hsuan-Yen Tsai, Kao Ying-Hsuan, Sin-Ting Huang, Sean Lin, RQ, and Queenie Chen (Silent Sins).

Incantation (2022) Review

Although it may seem easy, found footage is challenging to execute well. Horror fans have become familiar with the common tricks and elements, making it more challenging to be unique or terrifying. Kevin Ko's found-footage horror movie Incantation tries to bring new life to the genre with its tale of a cursed video and a cult horror film. However, its unique approach to found footage techniques is insufficient to compensate for its familiar supernatural setup and scares.

Li Ronan is working to adopt her biological daughter Dodo after an illness forced her to give up parental rights years ago. While legal records show that this was due to mental illness, Ronan's life turned upside down six years ago when a curse struck her for trespassing in a forbidden area. Ronan takes Dodo back, but the curse quickly afflicts the child. Nevertheless, Ronan does everything possible to save her daughter, even if it means revisiting the past.

Using a script Che-Wei Chang co-wrote, Ko alternates between past and present. The events of Ronan's journeys into an isolated region, where a militant group performs enigmatic ceremonies and worships a strange child, get intercut with her difficulties in motherhood. Incantation's primary enigma exists with the event that instigated Ronan's difficulties, and it's one refrained from for almost the entirety. The gradual ascent to the unveiling is packed with customary pictures, scare tactics, and stereotypes seen in more popular found-footage horror. A child is speaking to unseen entities hovering on the ceiling, and amateur paranormal investigators are exploring areas that are forbidden.

While the relationship between Ronan and her adorable daughter does provide an emotional bond for the audience, Ko struggles to connect the protagonist's past to her present. Whether Ronan's genuine drive to be a mother comes from a place of guilt or love seems to be the guiding question. Despite the risks, the decision to pursue custody of Dodo and risk her being cursed is never addressed satisfyingly.

Ronan's obsession with filming gives us the closest thing to answers. She captures everything on camera and uses sentimentality as a default response to questions about her constant camera use. The continuous footage acquisition becomes even more prevalent in the plot, with Ronan breaking the fourth wall innovatively. It immerses the viewer in horror on a new level. However, Ko can't figure out how to capture everything through Ronan's perspective and often switches to unexplained third-person perspectives that confuse the viewer.

As with many other horror films, "Incantation" builds suspense throughout the film, culminating in its best scares and scenes of bloodshed near the end. The initial event leads to some truly horrifying imagery and occasional bloodshed, leading to a clever resolution to the curse.

Worth Watching? 

Ko fills the film Incantation with plenty of emotion and clever techniques to engage, even if it still has the same problems as other films in the genre. The constant and abrupt shifts between past and present make for uneven pacing in stretches, and the scares rarely work on people familiar with this type of movie. It's not helpful that much of the story, outside of Ronan's caring nature and relationship with Dodo, feels like a bunch of other movies. The horror movie clichés and illogical choices work against a unique approach to the found footage format anchored by good acting and an unforgettable ending.

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