Incarnation Movie Review
Written by Joel Harley
Released by Matchbox Films
Directed by Filip Kovacevic
Written by Filip Kovacevic, Masa Senicic, Ivan Stancic
2016, 82 minutes, Rated 15
DVD released on 21st May 2018
Stojan Djordjevic as Covek
Daca Vidosavljevic as Ubica 1
Sten Zendor as Ubica 2
Dejan Cimilovic as Naucnik
We've all been there. A man wakes up on a bench in the middle of the street, with no idea where he is, nor how he came to be there. It only gets worse, as masked assassins emerge moments later and shoot him dead where he stands. From there, it either gets better or even worse depending on your perspective, as he re-awakens, again and again, at the same time and in the same place, only to suffer the same fate... no matter how many variations upon his escape he attempts. Yes, a bit like Happy Death Day.
Except not. It follows the basic model of Blumhouse's most recent success story – and, of course, that of Bill Murray's big fat elephant in the room – but Incarnation is no more beholden to Happy Death Day than it is, say, The Strangers or any other genre movie about murderers wearing spooky white masks. This lower-budget crime thriller bears more in common with the work of Christopher Nolan (most notably the similarly confused, paranoid Memento) than it does any other traditional time loop/genre movie one might care to mention.
For the audience's sanity, Covek (the Elvis-looking Stojan Djordjevic) can't stick around the bench all day though, and he gets further into his escape with each 're-spawn', gradually learning more about his condition and the people determined to kill him. While the film becomes less interesting the further it moves from Covek's bench, director Filip Covacevic and his co-writers keep the pace fast, the action surprisingly sharp. Djordjevic doesn't have much to do dramatically but look scared and confused, but he pulls both off well enough, and his Covek is a sympathetic proposition.
Alas, unless you're on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise (or, more recently, Discovery), you're unlikely to get much of a satisfactory explanation from this sort of movie, and Incarnation is no different. While it gives its mystery more thought than most, many will be left frustrated by the resolution Incarnation has to offer – as though this low-budget, action-driven crime drama was ever going to play out any other way. By nature, it's repetitive, but isn't that all part of the fun of this sort of thing?
Ultimately, the real star of Incarnation is its city, which lives and breathes with a real vitality, shot guerilla-style as poor Covek runs all over it, trying desperately not to get himself shot dead in a gutter. This is a clever, breezy genre puzzle which impresses in spite of a story many will dismiss as a rip-off of Harold Ramis and old sci-fi TV tropes. Sure, it's been done before, but if this sort of thing has taught us nothing else, it's that there can be lots of variety in doing the same thing over and over again.