Tuesday 21 August 2018

The Incantation (USA 2018: Dir Jude S Walko)

Jude S. Walko’s debut feature, about a young American girl summoned to an ancient castle, the home of her ancestors, is best seen as a modern update of a gothic fairy tale.

Happy go lucky Lucy is sent to northern France to attend the funeral of a distant relative; when she arrives she meets the rather loquacious Vicar of Borley (Walko) and a starchy housekeeper, and gets a brusque welcome from both – stick to the lower floors, no guests, that kind of thing. The arrival of a local insurance salesman, who may know more than he’s letting on, completes the weird household.

Gradually Lucy’s happy selfie-based demeanour is knocked out of her by a deepening gloom in her new home; a strange little girl is seen in the woods, who may or may not be a ghost; and, while ignoring the house rules and exploring upstairs, she finds evidence that the castle had previously been used in ritual magic – even uncovering a book of witchcraft practices, the Sorteligia (sorry, that death metal band name's already been taken).

Pudgy Jean- Pierre, the local gravedigger, seems to be her only friend, but Lucy begins to feel more and more a prisoner; and when she loses her way home one evening, after getting drunk in a bar, she encounters a strange blind woman occupying a seemingly abandoned cottage (who in the end credits is described rather wonderfully as 'Ethereal Crone' - now that's a death metal band name if ever I heard one!), who warns Lucy of her fate. "I don't plan on dying anytime soon," Lucy reasons, but it seems that the house's occupants have other ideas.

Now this movie really shouldn’t work – apart from a couple of profanities, it’s strictly Sunday teatime stuff. The acting is rather pedestrian, and the whole thing seems terribly naïve. But therein lies its success. It’s totally out of step with most modern horror/supernatural films. It’s languid, beautifully filmed and very quaintly old fashioned. It takes quite a leap of faith to like it but like it I did – and a lot of its success is down to Sam Valentine as Lucy who does a really good job and carried the whole movie. Admittedly Dean Cain as Abel Baddon, the insurance guy (yes that Dean Cain) looks bemused throughout, but at least he got an all-expenses paid holiday to France.


  1. I enjoyed your review of Dan Campbell's/Jude Walco's "The Incantation." (July 31, 2018) Would you consider reviewing Tonia L.Carrier's micro-budget feature, "Bailiwick"?

    Will you review Tonia's movie, Bailiwick?

    Pinkie's Kids Productions has just released Tonia L. Carrier's "Bailiwick." An ultra-low budget feature film shot in Michigan, it stars an all Michigan cast of actors.

    "Bailiwick" is the story of John, a lonely, quiet man who is given a gift that changes his life. Do you believe in magic?

    Written and directed by Tonia L. Carrier, co-written by Roni Jonah, Amy Austin, and Cyndi Moore. Starring Dan Gerics and Nick Mackey, "Bailiwick" co-stars Kirstin Vanhooser, Roni Jonah, Tonia L. Carrier, Skylar Sprague, Hector Reyes, among others.

    Featuring original music by Jeff Schrems, Cash O'Riley and Play To The Gallery. Original theme song by Jeff Schrems.

    "Bailiwick" is a modern-day horror movie. It does not, however, have jump scares, nor does it trade heavily on many time-worn horror tropes. Instead, it plays like an early Roger Corman movie/Twilight Zone episode. It may not be to everyone's taste. But we would like your opinion.

    Thanking you in advance.

    David W. King

    Bailiwick youtube link

    Tonia L. Carrier's IMDB page

  2. Hi David and thanks for the comments. Yeah I'd love to view the movie and give some comments. Thanks for the link. Regards, David.