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Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Review: Incantation

Director: Kevin Ko

Screenplay: Che-Wei Chang and Kevin Ko

Year: 2022

A woman thinks she is cursed for not respecting a cult ritual. Six years later, the woman feels the curse is now following her daughter as she begins to witness paranormal events around her. Now the woman is looking for a way to rid her daughter of the curse.

“Incantation”, which has been a phenomenon in Taiwanese horror movies, begins with a monologue by the protagonist that manages to draw the viewer fully into the plot. The plot in the script by Che-Wei Chang and director Kevin Ko is slightly interactive, where it feels like the protagonist addresses the viewer directly to tell her story and forces this beginning to be effective. From here, the plot unfolds in a found-film style and mainly follows the events that occurred at two separate times.

In the first of these times, we have the events that occurred six years ago, where the protagonist Ruo-nan (Hsuan-yen Tsai), her boyfriend, and a friend visit a rural community and witness a ritual to a deity. The trio of friends decides to enter a place they should not, and from there, they seem to have awakened a curse. The other part of the plot takes place six years after that event when the curse appears to have reached her daughter, and Ruo-nan looks for a way to help her. 

While the opening scene and the initial development of the plot manage to get the viewer fully into its dynamic, it takes too long for things to start happening, and this gradually takes the viewer out of the plot. For those who follow horror movies closely, the situation is even worse since the tricks it uses to create tension are tricks that we constantly see in other films and offer no innovation in that aspect. With this, I do not mean that the cheats are ineffective, only that we have already seen them too much and do not load the effect they should.

As you jump between the two timelines, more and more is revealed about the origin of the curse, with some of its more important details intended to be revealed near the end. However, the unexpected twist is quite evident before reaching the middle of its duration, and the ending only serves as a confirmation. Luckily the good performances, special effects, and some jump scares manage to compensate for those problems. 

"Incantation" is not a bad movie, but everything it presents we have seen before and better. The initial slow development can be exhausting, and its non-linear structure raises some confusion. For horror fans, the twist is obvious from early in the film and abuses tricks and features we continually see in other productions.


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