Freddy Beans here with a review of THE INCANTATION releasing today (July 31st).
Written and directed by Jude S. Walko, who also has a role in the movie. THE INCANTATION is brought to us by Dan Campbell, Gravitas Ventures and Blue Falcon Productions. It stars Sam Valentine, Dean Cain, Beatrice Orro, and Dylan Kellog.
The movie opens with Lucy Bellerose (Sam Valentine) arriving in Paris. Her history isn’t explained but she’s there to visit her family’s castle, Castle Borley, in southern France. Her uncle, the Count of Borley, has recently kicked the bucket, prompting the visit. There are some beautiful shots of the countryside set to an Irish song of doom on her drive. The song is C21 FX – Blood Red Roses.
It works well and then you’re stuck looking for what’s around the corner from there on out.
When Lucy arrives she meets the Vicar of Borley (Jude S. Walko) who gives her a little history on the castle and its inhabitants with a final subtle warning. He makes Lucy feel clearly uneasy and she removes herself as soon as she can from his presence. She next meets the chambermaid Mary (Beatrice Orro) who is clearly not all there and feels sinister immediately. Enter Abel Baddon (Dean Cain) who is a traveling insurance salesman who feels entirely too comfortable at the castle. Everything feels off purposefully so, setting the tone for scenes to come. Lucy finally reaches a comfortable level of acclimation when she meets local gravedigger Jean-Pierre (Dylan Kellog). Jean-Pierre is, you guessed it, a Frenchman who takes a liking to our heroine at first sight. They build a friendship out of benign conversation and the story builds from there. This a potpourri story erected with witchcraft, an old lady in a hut, childhood memories that connect to the present, and a modern-day grouping hiding secrets a la ROSEMARY’S BABY.
The acting in this feels wooden, everything came across devoid of real emotion for me and I think it hurts the film. The accents are unnecessary and clearly not native tongues. The acting wasn’t atrocious. It just never found that natural feel a flick needs and it’s absence is felt throughout the entire span of the film. In the interest of fairness, that could be the intent as there’s a lot of secrets that spill out as this one progresses and maybe the director was going for unease.
The camera work is serviceable, and the sights are beautiful throughout, it’s a fantastic setting. Castle Borley is marvelous to look at.
There’s a decent ending reveal packed into THE INCANTATION. For me, though the entire thing felt a bit like a Lifetime movie with an edge. There’s a ton of folks that like Lifetime movies, I’m just not one of them. I definitely prefer my horror darker.
This is being billed as a horror movie but like I said earlier it’s much more a mystery with a couple twists at the end and there’s really no gore to speak of. There's more of an ominous feel throughout that slowly makes sense as they reveal bits and pieces of the puzzle. The haunting “Blood Red Roses” is great and the director knows it as it’s used at the end too, perfectly bookending THE INCANTATION with that icky feel. While I can’t recommend this one completely it does have its charms.
Here are a few of the awards this one has already accumulated.
Calcutta International Cult Film Festival – Winner Best Narrative Feature Film and Nominee for Golden Fox Award.
The 7th Annual Eclipse Awards – Winner for Best Direction & Nominated for Best Narrative Feature, Best Supporting Actor (Dean Cain), and Best Cinematography.
Unrestricted View Film Festival 2018 - Nominee for Best Costume and Best Make-Up
Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival - Nominee for People's Choice Award for Best Feature Film.
IndieFEST - Winner of 5x Awards of Excellence for Direction, Writing, Supporting Actor (Dean Cain), Cinematography and Feature Film.
IndieFEST - Winner of Award of Merit for Originality.
Straight-Jacket Guerrilla Film Festival - Official Selection
Note: A big thank you to Jude S. Walko for allowing his film to be reviewed early!
INCANTATION again is available on VOD today!
5 out of 10 witches don’t know which witch is which.
Til next time, kids!