Netflix’s ‘Incantation’ Summons a Fresh Take on Found Footage Horror

Sommerleigh Pollonais, Horror Head Writer

Plot: Six years ago Li Ronan was cursed after breaking a religious taboo. Now she must protect her daughter from the consequences of her actions.

Review: Found footage movies are like Goldilocks and her stolen porridge. Some are average, some are awful but every now and again we get one that’s worth getting mauled by a bear to watch.

Eleven? What are YOU doing here?

Netflix’s Taiwanese horror Incantation has caught the interest of fans lately with a story that feels like The Ring meets Midsommar, where a group of friends learns the hard way why you don’t disrespect other people’s beliefs. And a woman breaks the fourth wall to convince the viewing audience to watch a video in the hopes of freeing herself and her daughter from a “blessing”.

It focuses on one woman named Li Ruo-nan (Hsuan-yen Tsai), who is telling the story of how she lost her daughter due to an event that took place when she and two friends (one of which was her boyfriend) fancied themselves investigators who expose fake psychics and false curses. Six years prior during one of these investigations they broke multiple rules set down by worshippers of a deity called Mother Buddha, freeing the entity and the curse she brings with her. This particular curse has attached itself to Ruo-nan and her daughter Do-Do.

RUO-NAN: Don’t worry; Mommy will protect you DO-DO: You do know this is an Asian horror movie, right? We’ll be lucky if it isn’t Reservoir Dogs at the end

While the story isn’t original, the way they go about it does add a refreshing element to the well-worn trope of curses and possession. The protagonist breaking the fourth wall to speak directly with the viewing audience was a smart choice and adds to the creepiness of the events that unfold. Found footage has never been a favorite genre of mine when it comes to horror but when it’s used correctly, it can be very effective (see Rec, As Above So Below and Creep as solid examples). And I’m pleased to say the technique fits perfectly with this story.

That said, Incantation does struggle a bit in the first act to find its rhythm and the back and forth between the present and past timelines means you have to pay attention or you may not understand exactly what’s happening here. I also felt it ran a bit too long but that’s par for the course with foreign language films. So if you’re used to watching them you’ll know it can take them a while to get to the conclusion, which in this case is a bittersweet one.

Okay. Who farted?!

I recommend you know as little as possible before viewing as it does make the journey more interesting. All in all, Incantation should appeal not just to fans of found footage movies but to those who just enjoy horror. It gets under your skin with the fourth wall breaking and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see an American version of this pop up sometime in the near future.

Score: 6.5 out of 10


 Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.

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Are you a fan of found footage horror? What’s your favourite? And you can find more found footage horror content (you saw what I did there, and you liked it!) below: