Not the terrifying experience the promos promised, but a strangely dull and unsatisfying film about shallow people being mutilated by a deranged doctor. Watch something better instead.
Sometimes, I find my appreciation for a film increases while I’m writing about it, and I adjust the star rating accordingly. Incision was, I’m sorry to say, the opposite. It was rubbish. The publicity tempted me, though, so there’s a chance I might forget the film entirely and waste another eighty minutes watching it again.
Incision is about a bunch of spoilt people who end up in the home of a deranged doctor and his family. He performs random and gruesome “procedures” on them. One or two try to escape. The end.
There’s no real reason for Dr. Gene Cunningham (James Allen Brewer) to carry out these surgeries/tortures, beyond working on his “masterpiece”. The reason why this group of friends, is at his house is one of the most contrived plot devices I’ve ever seen: basically, they go looking for a missing laptop, but it is never explained why the laptop is at the deadly doctor’s house. There’s also no solid reason why six friends, led by beauty blogger Alexa Landry (Korrina Rico), should all be there together. Oh, and the ending is inconclusive. (I do hope there won’t be a sequel.)
That’s Incision. It’s directed by Ali Zamani, but doesn’t appear on his IMDb page: instead, the director credit there is given to Az (the name of his production company), keeping Incision well apart from his other projects, for some reason. Most of the cast is unfamiliar, and I have a strong impression that this was a disadvantage when funding was being sought. It might have gone a bit like this:
“You really need a well-known name for the poster.”
“I know someone who knows Costas Mandylor. How about him?”
“Sure, but all the parts are cast.”
“You’ll find something for him to do.”
Thus the actor who played Hoffman for three Saw films in a row is reduced to playing a sleazy doctor in the favorite soap opera of the Big Bad’s grandmother, just to bring in some fans. I even received the publicity that declared “Costas Mandylor in a Saw-like horror feature”, yet his was an utterly irrelevant role, and the people we saw on the screen the most in Incision were the two I have named earlier.
The writing that gave the group of friends “character” was so superficial that I could have been watching Scooby-Doo. As well as the “beauty blogger”, there was her sporty boyfriend and her sister (escaped from rehab), the boyfriend’s DJ friend, his expectant girlfriend, and his flaky mate. The demented surgeon and his are even more clichéd, and could have been taken from any of the existing twisted families in the genre: a creepy kid, a tall man who barely talks, a seemingly kind old woman, and the man of the house whose strange ways they all accommodate.
Some knowing meta wit might have made something of these tropes, but no such luck. Instead, Incision had the appearance of a film that wanted to be taken seriously but at the same time appeared cheap. The dialogue had the quality of a low-grade soap opera, and the acting was just as bad; though it did improve a little when the nasty stuff started.
Incision did have a couple of positive aspects. Firstly, Tori Letzler’s music was good, with aptly applied pop in the bling pads and a tense, grinding score in the doctor’s lair. Unfortunately, some of the music (especially early on) was too loud for the dialogue. The other quality was the gore effects, a major plus for a horror film, of course: it all looked extremely realistic. There was a strange mixture, though, in that much of the “surgery” and wounds were shown up close, and others were suggested, just out of shot; betraying a poorly planned budget, perhaps?
Having watched some gorgeous, emotional films lately, I was ready to get back to some nasty horror and dared myself to watch Incision. I had put it off for a while, thinking it would be too difficult to watch. As it turns out, I wish I’d put it off longer: it wasn’t worth the screen time, and definitely wasn’t worth this many words.
Alix has been writing for Ready Steady Cut since November 2017. They cover a wide variety, including genre festivals, and especially appreciates wit and representation on screen.