Horror Movie Review: Incantation (2022)

Incantation is a 2022 Taiwanese found footage supernatural horror film directed by Kevin Ko, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Chang Che-wei. The film was released in Taiwan on March 18, 2022, and it became the highest-grossing Taiwanese horror film. It received international distribution from Netflix on July 8, 2022.

A woman named Li Ronan narrates the film, imploring the viewer to memorize an insignia and chant an incantation. To send blessings and lift a curse on her six-year-old daughter, Dodo. The insignia and incantation are interspersed frequently throughout the film to encourage the viewer to pray along. The events of the film are shown as a found footage in a non-linear manner.

Six years earlier, Ronan, her boyfriend Dom, and Dom’s cousin Yuan, broke a religious taboo while documenting a ritual for their online video channel. They went to a remote clan village inhabited by Dom and Yuan’s relatives. Who practiced an esoteric Yunnan religion worshipping an ancestral deity called Mother-Buddha. The clan asked the three to submit their names with the incantation to the Mother-Buddha. A clan elder told Ronan that after her daughter was born, she must also submit her daughter’s name. Ronan was surprised as she had not realized that she was pregnant.

That night, the group spied on the clan performing the ritual, where a young girl seemed to be willingly prepared for a sacrifice. The unconscious girl, whose body was covered in runes, was left in front of a tunnel, which the group were keen to enter but the clan had said was forbidden. Ronan waited with the girl while Dom and Yuan entered the tunnel after destroying its barricades. Yuan later emerged screaming hysterically, while Dom’s lifeless body was later seen being carried by the villagers from the tunnel. The footage from within the tunnel has since become damaged and cannot be played. After Dodo was born, Ronan left her at a foster care home and sought psychiatric help.

In the present, Ronan has recovered and is taking Dodo to live with her. Their house soon becomes infested by unexplained activities and Dodo is disturbed by a shadowy presence. Dodo gradually develops a debilitating illness and Ronan’s mental health declines. When social workers arrive to take Dodo away, she and Ronan escape. With the help of Ming, the sympathetic manager of the foster care home. They bring Dodo to a shrine, where a priest and his wife agree to risk their lives to exorcize Dodo.

What is really going on? Is there something supernatural at work or should Ronan surrender Dodo again and restart therapy? Watch and find out.

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Let me start off by saying that although Incantation is a found footage movie, it’s an extremely good one. It doesn’t fall into too many clichés and isn’t discombobulating to watch.

Incantation is definitely an early contender for the best film I’ve seen in 2023. Innovative, memorable and creepy as hell. The terrifying visuals and optical illusions genuinely unsettled me. A particular scene where the religious symbol is literally burned into your retinas for a few minutes was amazing, something I’ve never seen before.

The mythology surrounding the curse was cleverly put together, including the hand gesture and prayer. The set design and props were equally well done. Then to top it off, the acting is fantastic throughout.

Overall, Incantation will have you on edge from start to finish. An unsettling and fresh take on the found footage and exorcism genre with the sweetest angel that will tug at your heart strings. If you’re going to watch though you have to remember one thing: Chant along and pray. Hou-ho-xiu-yi, si-sei-wu-ma.


  • Sally Powell

    Editor/Writer - Stay at home mum educating the horror minds of tomorrow. If it's got vampires or Nicolas Cage in it, I'm sold. Found cleaning bums or kicking ass in an RPG. (And occasionally here reviewing all things horror and gaming related!)

  • The Final Score - 9/10
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