The Incantation (2018)

Lucy Bellerose has come to the Loire Valley in France on vacation but has ended up inheriting a chateau that’s inspired all manner of local legends and fears. What happens when a girl addicted to social media ends up confronting the unknown?

If we learned anything from Dan Brown ripping off Holy Blood, Holy Grail — or even better, the documentary The Otherworld — France is a crazy place, particularly the areas around Rennes-le-Château. This film concerns one such ancient place that has a past that the townspeople have been whispering about for some time.

Lucy (Sam Valentine, Someone Marry BarryFollowed) is mostly concerned with herself and making videos for her social media audience. I’m an old man, so I don’t get the need to post videos and amass followers, but I tried to keep an open mind about our heroine (that said, she has a great monologue near the end about always cheering for the bad guy, making out with boys in cemeteries and wanting to see dead bodies in funerals).

The castle she’s staying in has guests that she is to never meet or speak to, as well as some crazy ones that she has to deal with, like The Vicar of Borley (writer/director Jude S. Walko), who details the rules of the house and presides over the funeral for her great uncle, and Mary the chambermaid, who nonchalantly cleans up after Lucy, even when her sheets are covered with blood.

In the midst of all of this strides Dean Cain — of all people! — as Abel Baddon, an insurance salesman who knows way more about the castle, the area and Lucy than he is letting on. Just checking out his IMDB page shows that Dean’s a working actor, appearing in a variety of films and genres. And if you’ve learned anything from my reviews, I do so love it when a major actor shows up in a genre film.

Lucy starts to fall in love with Jean-Pierre (Dylan Kellogg), a local boy who helps her explore the grounds and history of the gigantic home that she’s inherited. Of course, that means exploring rooms that she isn’t allowed to enter and following a flower girl covered in blood. And her inheritance is more than just having a great house filled with awesome lighting to take selfies in.

The locations for this film are amazing — the house and surrounding area offer so many vistas for the eerie nature of this film. There are plenty of drone shots, but you have to forgive the urge to feature so many views of the scenery.

I’ll give the team behind this film credit — the movie looks great and the music is stellar. There are some issues with the story — I never felt concerned about the heroine’s fate as I never grew to like her. But I really enjoyed seeing Dean Cain play a demonic character. I mean, the guy had to have sold his soul to get to keep his looks all these years. And when you factor in that he’s the dude who took Brooke Shields’ virginity, he definitely has some pact with some demon somewhere, right? And hey, any film that has the balls to end with such a shoutout to The Shining has to be admired (or admonished, but I’m writing this at 3 AM, so let’s go with admired).

Contrasting the great performances from Valentine, Walko and Cain are some rough ones from people playing townsfolk. It’s almost enough to take you out of the film. And hey — there’s a bat attack and lots of corridors filled with black cloaked monks near the end, which are always buzzwords to get me into a film. I mean, how many movies are you going to get where Dean Cain force feeds communion to a girl? Here’s your answer: exactly one.

The Incantation is available July 31 in iTunes, Amazon Prime, Redbox and pretty much everywhere you stream or watch films.

Disclaimer: I was sent an advance screening of this film by writer/director/actor Jude A. Walko. We appreciate the early look and in no way did getting the film in this way influence our review.

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