Incarnate (2012) – By Philip Smolen

In 2063, a European dictator (Mikaai Bates) has his head cryogenically frozen as his nation crumbles around him. Two hundred years later, a group of radical scientists decides to bring him back, so he can once again rule with an iron fist. But a politician (Dipali Desai) is determined to stop this abomination. She hires an assassin named Ghost (Bob Jaffe) to track down the scientists and kill the dictator before he can again take control of his nation.

“Incarnate” is a moody sci-fi short from writer/director Chai Dingari. Shot for $2000, the 10-minute film features clever camerawork and tight editing. But due to its brief length, the film fails to carry any emotional impact. The biggest problem is the dictator himself. He lies in bed for most of the film, so it’s difficult to figure him out. Another problem is that it’s never explained why the trio of scientists wants to bring him back and who is behind this project. The film raises too many questions that are never answered or even discussed, such as why does the dictator burn his hand when putting on his glove? What kind of power does Ghost have? If he does have incredible power (as is shown in one cool scene), why doesn’t he use it when attacked? And if the dictator’s head was just attached to a new body, why aren’t there surgical scars on his neck? This lack of continuity spoils the movie.

Another problem with “Incarnate” is that with the exception of Bob Jaffe as the cold-blooded assassin (who looks truly menacing), none of the actors distinguishes themselves. They all are almost interchangeable. That’s a great shame, because this movie has terrific potential. Ten minutes don’t do this theme justice. An expanded version would surely give Dingari a chance to flesh out the characterizations and refine the narrative. The film needs modifications to evolve into a more complete and resonating vision. As it stands “Incarnate” is merely interesting.

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