A few officers are working the last shift at a remote police station due to be closed down. Detective Tom Caretti (Joey Fatone) arrives to question a young man who has been arrested for brutally killing his girlfriend, he claims that the killer was a mysterious man in black who appeared in his room and then jumped from a third story window. Events take a turn when a strangely dressed man (Robert Englund) appears in the station carrying the severed head of the murdered girl. He is arrested but gives his name only as Inkubus, claims to be 99 years old and responsible for a litany of murders going back decades, even centuries - with his one phone call he summons retired Detective Gil Diamante (William Forsythe) to the station, the man who came closest to catching him years before. During the night Caretti will discover that Inkubus has no mind to go down quietly...
The early 2010s have been dominated by straight to video horror oferrings consisting of endless CGI monster movies or 'torture porn' films trying to out-gross each other. Co-written by the director Glenn Ciano, Inkubus is a real gem showing that it is possible to make a genuinely good film on a low-budget, with less than three weeks shooting and filming entirely on an off-the-shelf DSLR (the Canon 5D Mk II). Fully aware of the budget, Ciano has never tried to over-stretch and creates a highly minimalistic storyline that is perfect for building atmosphere. The police station being decomissioned might at first seem like a cheap excuse to keep down the cast, but the setting is ideal for the story, as is the almost real-time progression that concentrates the entire story into a single night at the police station building, giving the film a palpable claustrophobia.
Inkubus uses a seemingly conventional format, with the main story being recounted by the detective in flashback, but it takes a more elaborate approach than mere bookends and viewers are expected to keep up with the sharply written script - the opening scene in particular employs a number of flashbacks and forwards without any on-screen prompting and it takes a few minutes to work out exactly what is goung on. The flashback format does allow for a few useful voice-over moments that provide information without any clunky exposition, although it does have a slight conceptual flaw in the fact that we see a lot of events that the main character was not present for (although this is nit-picking).
Despite the small scale, the film never drags and the pacing is solid throughout - Caino is able to create some effective characters and the police station setting allows them to avoid the usual horror genre clichés, instead the characters seem to be fresh from a television cop series which makes the supernatural events that befall them seem much more unexpected. Genuinely creepy tension and the suffocating sense of claustrophobia is built up in a lot of scenes and the script avoids the temptation to use cheap jump shocks or "fake" scares that can often destroy the atmosphere. The film builds to a solid climax and ends well with a neat conclusion.
One element that is a little surprising though, is the relative lack of surprises throughout the film - for horror fans, the path it follows is all quite predictable and there are no real twists. If anything however, this is something of a plus point - too many modern horror films, particularly post-Shyamalan, revolve around 'a big twist', which if not predictable from the start, is often quite tenuous or non-sensical and if spoilt leaves the film with nothing to recommend it - the script here never tries to catch out the viewer and instead is able to focus on the characters and storyline. On a similar topic, Caino avoids the post-Tarantino/Craven fad for shoehorning in endless 'references' or self-aware moments and the film is refreshingly free of these.
For a first time director, Glenn Caino has got it spot on - the film is strongly stylised with some artistic camerawork, but never over does it - many digitally edited film go too far as though the DP is just playing around with the available features in the camera. The washed-out, flickering neon look is used throughout and perfectly suits the storyline and the setting, while the sets all look detailed and realistic, which along with the realistic characterisation helps to give a normality to the location that emphasises the strangeness of the events going on. Some light but good looking CGI effects are used in a few scenes, but the blood and guts are practical effects and look much better for it. Composer Mauro Colangelo provides a minimalist but perfectly suited score.
Top billed is the veteran horror icon Robert Englund (the iconic Freddy Krueger), but while jaded veteran horror stars might expect such a part to be a mere extended cameo, he actually has the most screentime of any of the cast. The demonic Inkubus is an ideal role for Englund, allowing him to combine lengthy scenes of erudite dialogue which show off his classic acting abilities, with some traditional Krueger-esque horror work. The other main roles are similarly well played, William Forsythe (cast after his appearance in Halloween (2007)) is convincing as the retired detective while former boy-band singer Joey Fatone is surprisingly good as the detective around whom the main storyline develops.
In a crowded, low budget, straight-to-video, horror marketplace, Inkubus emerges as a real gem. Glenn Ciano's clever and original storyline is well suited to the available budget and format, while his direction perfectly realises the grim, flickering neon atmosphere that gives the film a distinctive edge. Robert Englund really makes the film, clearly relishing the part and giving one of the performances of his career, while an impressively solid supporting cast give the film a solid backing. Undoubtedly one of the must see horrors of 2012.
|Check out my exclusive interview with star Robert Englund about this film at the Mondo Esoterica blog.|
|Anyone famous in it?||Robert Englund - the star of the Nightmare on Elm Street films and a modern horror icon.|
|Directed by anyone interesting?||Glenn Ciano - a first time director, now working on a second horror project, Infected (2012).|
|Any gore or violence ?||Several strongly gory death scenes.|
|Any sex or nudity?||None.|
|Who is it for?||Fans of well written modern horrors will certainly enjoy this, a must see for Englund fans.
|Visuals||Original Aspect Ratio - 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Colour.
The digital print receives a flawless transfer.
|Audio||English 2.0 - generally clear, a couple of lines of dialogue are slightly unclear in places but only a minor issue.|
|Extras||The disc includes:
|Region||Region 0 (ALL) - PAL|
|Other regions?||Available in the US from Screen Media, February 21, 2012.|
|Cuts?||Uncut. Print language is English.|