The latest mid-budget Blumhouse thriller "Incarnate" is a demonic possession picture for folks who've seen too many devil movies, and are hankering for anything new. Dense with plot and mythology, the film is refreshingly unpredictable — if only because guessing what comes next would require understanding what the hell is going on.
Aaron Eckhart plays Dr. Seth Ember, a kind of psychic scientist, who performs "evictions," in which he enters the subconscious of the possessed and guides their souls out of the darkness. Haunted by a car accident that cost him his family and the use of his legs, Dr. Ember takes jobs in large part to hunt down his longtime dream-nemesis, named Maggie.
In addition to Eckhart, "Incarnate" stars Carice van Houten as the mother of a possessed boy, played by David Mazouz, the young Bruce Wayne in TV's "Gotham." A strong cast helps sell dialogue filled with parapsychological mumbo-jumbo about "auras" and "surfacing."
But the pseudo-technological jargon and complex explanations of how Dr. Ember's powers work quickly take over. Even during the most intense action sequences, director Brad Peyton ("San Andreas") and screenwriter Ronnie Christensen dull the excitement by cutting back to Dr. Ember's team staring at monitors and shouting numbers.
The film doesn't really get up to speed until its final 10 minutes, which are genuinely pulse-pounding and even moving. "Incarnate" could end up being one of those horror franchises where the sequels are better, since all the setup is done.
Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of horror violence, terror, disturbing images, brief strong language, sensuality and thematic elements
Running time: 1 hour, 31 minutes