The Movie That God Forgot: 10 Facts About The Amazing Film Incarnate

By  · Published on December 2nd, 2016

Will anyone see this crazy exorcist (excuse me, demon eviction) movie? I hope so.

When I turned to Google, my primary source for everything in my life, to find out what the new wide releases were this weekend, the only film I saw added was the mysterious title of Incarnate. I’d seen no advertisements for this movie, no press releases, no screening invitations. It’s not like I went out of my way to avoid it – this is my JOB. What was this thing? What were they trying to hide? I read the lonely sentence-long synopsis provided by IMDb and I was immediately sold.

It cost a measly $5 million to make this movie about “an unconventional exorcist,” which is about how much it costs to run an ad during the Super Bowl, so of course, of course, of course I had to check it out the Thursday night before its official opening.

I was the only one in attendance and it did not disappoint. What follows are ten facts about the goings-on of Brad Peyton’s (Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island) Incarnate, a movie you must see for any 2016 best-of list to be complete.


First and foremost, Incarnate is about the Nicolas Cagification of Aaron Eckhart. A leading man’s face stuck with a wild card’s taste in roles, Eckhart has been a kidnapped president, Frankensteinian monster, supervillain, alien-battling Marine sarge, and moustachioed co-pilot – all in the last eight years. Now is his time to crack into the revamped genre of low-budget franchise horror. He plays Dr. Seth Ember, a nondenominational fixer with dubious academic qualifications that Inceptions himself into a possessed person, fights the demon inside with his fists, then “evicts” them (not exorcises).

Oh, and he’s also a wheelchair-bound, alcoholic, ass-kicking paraplegic.


Incarnate was written by Ronnie Christensen, the writer of Passengers. Well, the 2008 movie Passengers where Anne Hathaway is a therapist for plane crash survivors but actually they’re all ghosts (including her), not the new Passengers where Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence are sexy space flight survivors but are actually both ghosts (I assume). So yes, Christensen is a master of premise.


This film, a co-production by the savvy Blumhouse and WWE Studios, features professional wrestler and strongest American of all time Mark Henry in his first feature film appearance since MacGruber. You’d bet Dr. Ember would balk when he was about to be thrown out of a mind-club by a bouncer who’s also a 400 lb. murder monster. Sadly, you underestimate Aaron Eckhart, who could hoist Mark Henry’s 2336.9 lb. powerlifting recording with his chin cleft alone.


I mentioned before that Eckhart’s character must Incept himself into the minds of the possessed. This is done in a similarly pseudo-scientific fashion as in that movie, with plenty of ECG monitors, IV drips, and forehead electrodes in, on, and around Dr. Ember. As soon as he’s asleep, he’s in. We later find out he’s always been able to do this when asleep because he’s not just a dream-fighting exorcist, he’s also an X-Man.

Once in the subject’s mind, he has to prove to them that it’s a fake reality because the evil spirit possesses them by keeping them sedate and happy in the dream world. This proves my theory that Leonardo DiCaprio is one of Hollywood’s oldest and most powerful Archdemons.


Dr. Ember doesn’t believe in any one religion, nor does he call his involvement an exorcism. He evicts spirit tenants and doesn’t play by the Vatican’s rules – going so far as to turn down a briefcase full of cash from an Italian representative that just happens to direct him towards the movie’s key case of possession.


While Dr. Ember is asleep, his neo-Hackers punk assistants (Keir O’Donnell and Breanne Hill) watch his readings and wait to give him the kick. They don’t get a lot of fun things to do, but O’Donnell’s character has knuckle tattoos that I spent a good five minutes trying to read. I started theorizing after that point. “Hell 2Pay,” maybe. If anyone sees this movie and can report back, please do.


Remember that Vatican money? Turns out some exorcists in the business are doing pretty well for themselves. Dr. Ember’s colleague Felix (Tomas Arana, wonderfully silly), whose methods Ember doesn’t approve of, lives in a slummy warehouse – or so it seems from the outside. Once the doors are open…it’s still a slummy warehouse FILLED WITH PROPS.

A jewel-encrusted cane, Persian rugs, multiple cars, wine bottles and whiskey decanters, stuffed leopards, elephant tusks, and terra cotta soldiers all look like they were recently dollied in from the rental place, scattered around the bleak interior among wooden Indiana Jones-style crates. Felix is doing experiments on a demon he’s captured and restrained behind “rhino-proof glass” and gives Dr. Ember the exorcist equivalent of a spy’s cyanide capsule made with demon blood.


The family Dr. Ember comes to work with includes a possessed 11-year old (David Mazouz, creepy) and his mom, Melisandre from Game of Thrones. The actress’s real name is Carice van Houten, she hasn’t quite nailed down her accent, and if you see this movie, you’re just going to call her character Melisandre.

Adjacent to the family is the ever-present character type in good-bad movies: the Bad Dad, Sad Dad. Here, the Bad Dad, Sad Dad is played by the droopy-faced Matt Nable as a drunk that accidentally broke his son’s arm (sort of like The Shining, to name one example). This estranged parent is found at a bar, where Dr. Ember interrupts a pool game only to politely excuse himself by yelling “I’m in a wheelchair!!” on his way to assault Bad Dad, Sad Dad.


Later in the film, Dr. Ember sets a man (the aforementioned Bad Dad, Sad Dad – only as a dream demon) on fire by punching him very hard and then feeding him a crucifix. This man then explodes.


You’ve come this far so you deserve to know that Incarnate has one of the best penultimate scenes I’ve ever seen in a good-bad horror movie.

Don’t finish this bullet if you don’t want a spoiler, but spoilers are the reason you’re going to want to see this movie.

Yes, there’s a weird scene where Dr. Ember starts bleeding for no reason in a dream. Yes, there’s a car crash where a drunk driver is actually a demon named Maggie. But none of these sublime moments compare to the final solution of a possessed Dr. Ember who, still paralyzed from the waist down mind you, has ten seconds of lucidity to heave himself headfirst out of a third-story window – killing himself and the demon inside of him.

God, advertisers, and the studio may have forgotten Incarnate but I hope you won’t. Screw the awards talk and see a schlocky movie this weekend.

You earned it.

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Jacob Oller writes everywhere (Vanity Fair, The Guardian, Playboy, FSR, Paste, etc.) about everything that matters (film, TV, video games, memes, life).