The Movie Waffler Mike's Strange Cinema Cavalcade - THE INCANTATION | The Movie Waffler

Mike's Strange Cinema Cavalcade - THE INCANTATION

THE INCANTATION movie review
Summoned to her family's castle in France, an American discovers her family has some dark secrets.

Review by Michael Vaughn

THE INCANTATION movie poster

Directed by: Jude S Walko

Written by: Jude S Walko

Starring: Dean Cain, Sam Valentine, Jude Walko, Dylan Kellogg, Margie Clarke, Allan Vincent Swan

Hey everyone, its been a little while since my last review but I'm back with a film by newcomer Jude Walko, who not only directed this film but also wrote and starred in it.

An American girl named Lucy (Sam Valentine) is summoned to a castle in France after her relative dies. What seems like a fun adventure and a chance to explore quickly turns into a hellish nightmare when she learns that her family has a dark secret.

Films like The Witch and more recently A Quiet Place highlight how a filmmaker working on a low budget can take a bare bones plot, inject style and substance and really produce something awe inspiring. It’s a lesson that Walko might want to think about for his next project, because sadly, Incantation is an unholy mess.


So, before I get into what’s wrong about the film I will mention some things that Walko and his crew get right. For his first feature, the film aims high with an ambitious (albeit confused) plot, and some scenes do manage to be effectively creepy.

The real treasure of this film is hands down its cinematographer, Derek Street, who captures the locations and settings with perfection. Natural lighting and use of crane shots also give everything a more polished, expensive look.

While on the subject of the technical aspects, the set designs are well done. It also features a decent soundtrack, and I was excited to hear the music of bluegrass group The Dead South used in the bar scene.

Walko seems to have the makings of a decent filmmaker, however his writing is partly what brings the entire project down. The plot is a tangled mess of holes and just straight up convolution, and if that weren’t bad enough it also heavily relies on tired horror clichés.


Many of the film's aspects are left woefully unclear, making it frustrating for viewers. It tries hard to infuse symbolism and a bit of art but it adds nothing to the narrative. The first portion of the film is spent spoon feeding the audience clunky exposition, and I frankly found myself bored trying to wade through it all.

It’s also safe to say Jude has trouble writing characters, as Lucy, our heroine, comes off unlikeable for much of the runtime. Her love interest also comes off ingenious and just meh. Dialogue is a tricky thing to do well and again Walko struggles, with lines that sway from painfully awkward to down right cringy.

I always hate to mention an actor by name for not being very good, however lead actor Valentine has a painfully limited range and she is either over acting or under acting throughout. Dean Cain (not so subtly blasted on the underwhelming cover art) is not altogether terrible but doesn’t really bring anything, and it seems he's not into this wholeheartedly.


As with many first-time filmmakers, Walko struggles to contain his rather ambitious project and lacks the skills to fully realise it. But really, I don’t think that he is a bad filmmaker; in fact I can see talent behind the flaws. With a good screenwriter and actors, I would love to see what Walko could do.

Sadly this is a horror film that lacks scares, tension or a plot that makes sense. Hey Jude, don’t be afraid to give us a less is more horror, rather than the same re-worked plot. Bonus points if you get that reference.

Hopefully I will have another review soon; and as always, thanks for reading.

The Incantation is on VOD/DVD/blu-ray July 31st.

Michael Vaughn is a rabid horror and cult fan who turned that love into a career. He is a writer, blogger and film historian and now author of 'The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema' which Shock Wave Podcast named their pick of the month, and Chris Alexander of Fangoria called “recommended reading.”

His other credits include Scream Magazine, Fangoria and websites like Films in Review and Bloody Flicks (UK). Please follow his Twitter @StrangeCinema65 and Instagram @castle_anger.