'The Incantation' Shows Just Enough Creepy Potential To Be Frustrating

By James Jay Edwards
Released: July 31, 2018
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A young American girl has a chance of a lifetime to visit her ancestors castle in the south of France, only to find that her family is hiding deep, dark secrets about their nefarious past, far away from prying eyes.

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Film Review
The Incantation is about a millennial named Lucy Bellerose (Sam Valentine from ThanXgiving) who travels to France to visit a castle that belonged to her deceased great uncle. She is greeted by the Vicar (writer/director Jude S. Walko), who emotionlessly lays out the rules of the grounds to her, including which parts of the house are off-limits to her prying eyes.

The Incantation, photo courtesy House of Rose/Gravitas Ventures 2018.

There's still plenty to see, selfies to take, and vlogs to record, even within the strict rules, but some things just don't seem right, from the pushy insurance salesman who keeps showing up (Superman himself, Dean Cain, from "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman") to the mysterious ghostly girl that Lucy spots just about everywhere. With the help of a friendly local boy named Jean-Pierre (newcomer Dylan Kellogg) who develops a crush on her, Lucy begins to unravel the mysteries of her family's past.

From a technical standpoint, The Incantation is a pretty solid effort, especially as the first feature from Walko. It looks great, taking full advantage of the fact that is was shot on location in France. It sounds good, too, with creepy sound design and a fun score by Daniel Lepervanche (Mercy Christmas). The visual and auditory aspects of The Incantation are put together very well. And that's a big part of what makes the movie so frustrating for its viewers.

The Incantation, photo courtesy House of Rose/Gravitas Ventures 2018.

The narrative of The Incantation has plenty of good, spooky ideas (even if many of them have been done before), but it all gets overshadowed by the inconsistent artistic elements of the film. The acting is stiff and wooden, the dialogue is bogged down with spoon-fed exposition, and the story arc as a whole is strangely paced so that it feels like the plot never really takes off. Every so often, the movie will give the audience something special, even spine tingling (the sequences with the ghostly little girl come immediately to mind), but then it will fall off the tracks again. The Incantation shows just enough promise to keep the viewer interested enough to keep watching, but it never really pays that faith off.

As far as spooky-places-in-a-foreign-land movies go, you could do a lot worse than The Incantation. But you could also do a lot better. It's no Burnt Offerings, but it's not exactly The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death, either.

The Incantation, photo courtesy House of Rose/Gravitas Ventures 2018.
Production Design
For what it is, The Incantation looks terrific. The fact that it was shot on location in France helps the general vibe out a lot, and the film never lets the audience forget its setting with copious external shots and flying drone footage. But even the internal sets and props are meticulously put together, from the rooms inside the spacious castle to the tiny little cabin that Lucy and Jean-Pierre find in the woods. Every little detail is authentic, which greatly helps the overall look of the film. It's hard to say how much of that look is supplied by the stunningly gorgeous locations and how much was crafted by production designer Boontawee Thor Taweepasas (SiREN, Donner Pass), but in the end, it doesn't matter. What does matter is what ends up on the screen, and what ends up on the screen in The Incantation looks flawless.

The Incantation, photo courtesy House of Rose/Gravitas Ventures 2018.
Scary Factor
There are few to no real scares in The Incantation. There are a handful of ideas that could be considered scary in the right environment, but this movie is not that environment. The movie's themes deal with witchcraft and the occult, but everything is too analytical instead of emotional, so none of it is very frightening. Out of everything in the film, the ghostly little girl comes the closest to inspiring any fear, but even that is more fascinating than fearsome. There's nothing scary about The Incantation.

The Incantation, photo courtesy House of Rose/Gravitas Ventures 2018.

Adventure, Fantasy, Horror
Release Date
July 31, 2018
Production Designer
Casting Director
Music Score