It’s nearly impossible not to love Robert Englund. He’s Freddy Krueger, for God’s sake- one of the most recognizable, memorable, witty-yet-terrifying horror movie villains of all time. What other villain could make sleep- one of the best things in the world- such a frightening thing? What other villain could take on Jason Vorhees, and, in my opinion- completely kick his ass? What other villain could make that striped Christmas-esque sweater look so chic?
Not Michael Myers. I can tell you that much.
Robert Englund is the star of “Inkubus,” a gem I found on Netflix, and judging by the cover, knew I had to watch and dissect. A brief summary, courtesy of Netflix:
“A group of cops stuck on the night shift find themselves thrust into a world of supernatural brutality when a man claiming to be a demon named Inkubus wanders into the precinct house, holding a bloody severed head and looking to settle an old score.”
Alright. It sounds a little over the top and ridiculous- but how bad can it be, right?
Oh. Joey Fatone’s in it.
Right off the bat, this movie is off to a bad start- with the opening credits interlaced with shots of Joey Fatone in hospital scrubs talking his wife through childbirth, which, even taken out of the horror movie context- is incredibly uncomfortable to watch. Things go (predictably) wrong and Joey’s wife ends up coughing up a pretty insane amount of blood all over herself, and into his face- “Exorcist” style- before she croaks. The Doctors and nurses in the room seemingly just up and leave, leaving Joey to stand there looking over his wife’s lifeless body in an unusually small looking hospital bed. Maybe she died from discomfort? While the ominous looking “INKUBUS” title flashes across the screen, we catch a glimpse of exactly what it was that came out of Joey Fatone’s character’s wife’s womb- the cheesiest looking demon baby prop I’ve ever seen in my life- complete with little tiny horns. I lost it- and we’re not even four minutes into this.
Fast-forward to an indeterminable amount of time, and Joey Fatone is now donning a straitjacket in lieu of hospital scrubs, and is continually bashing his head off the wall of a tiny, white, brightly-lit, and completely NOT-padded room. It’s sort of a more depressing version of the one in N’Sync’s “Bye Bye Bye” video- and if you think that’s going to be my only N’Sync reference in this review- you are sorely mistaken.
A Doctor comes into the room, and we find out Joey Fatone’s character’s name is Tom. When asked how he’s feeling, Tom has some crazy vision with a bunch of shadows and satanic imagery, before we are flash-backed to the exterior of the “Woodhaven Police Department,” just as Tom is pulling up and making his way inside. He’s a cop (was a cop?) and it’s revealed that the department is in the process of moving the precinct to another building. Tom is also apparently the only person working that night, because in the next shot, he’s having undisturbed sex with the woman I assumed was his wife just minutes ago on top of his desk. Turns out Tom is her boss. There’s a twist.
This is one of those movies that goes back and forth between the past and present, so after the office bangin’- we once again see Tom in his straitjacket while the Doctor urges him to tell him about “that night”- and then it’s suddenly back to the prison again.
A dispatcher tells Tom that a college kid was brought to the precinct, covered in blood that wasn’t his, and has no injuries whatsoever. The blood apparently belongs to his murdered girlfriend, although the kid swears he has nothing to do with it. Tom decides to be both the good cop and the bad cop as he interrogates the kid, who says that mid makeout, someone came up behind his girlfriend and cut her head off. We’re treated to some cheesy gore as this scene is reenacted, which is always fun, before Tom asks the kid where his girlfriend’s head is- since they couldn’t find it at the scene.
On cue, Robert Englund walks into the precinct, whose security must be atrocious since he’s carrying the aforementioned severed head and nobody seems to notice until he opens his mouth and starts talking. The cops, showing more restraint than real police officers do in less-insane situations, don’t immediately shoot him in the face, cuffing him on sight instead while he makes some Freddy Krueger-esque one-liners. He then goes on to telepathically make his one allotted phone call, which for some reason, the rest of the precinct can hear and are in no way, shape, or form alarmed, or at the least impressed, by this. The call is to an old former Captain of police, who, after getting Tom on the phone, says he’s on his way.
Fast forward to the hospital. Tom asks the Doctor to remove his straitjacket. The Doctor agrees, as long as he can hold a civilized conversation- and then the story goes back to the prison. Tom and a couple of other cops go out to investigate the creepy murderer’s van, only to find it’s filled with severed limbs and jars full of human intestines and other assorted gross things a serial killer would probably keep in a very serial killer-like van. Meanwhile, inside, said lunatic is just screwing around and mentally mindfucking the cop who has been designated to keep an eye on him. He does say his name is Inkubus, though- and stresses the fact that the “k” is inverted. Oh boy. After some more mindfucking, i.e.- making the handcuffs disappear, then reappear, having the camera go nuts during his mugshot photos, having each of his fingerprints come back with matches to ten different victims of violent crimes, and other nifty parlor tricks- it becomes apparent that Inkubus isn’t just the typical shopping mall-goth serial killer he dresses like, and is actually otherworldly. Namely- he’s a demon.
The former Captain arrives with his case worker in tow, who, miraculously, is able to decipher a book written in numerous languages that was found among the human remains within Inkubus’ van. She recalls a story from another patient she’s had in the past about a demon named Inkubus, who impregnates a human host to regenerate itself before the end of it’s 100 year life cycle. See where this is going? Because I do. Anyway, the Captain and Tom go in to interrogate Inkubus. It turns out, the former Captain had come awfully close to capturing Inkubus more than a decade ago (although he’s a demon, so I don’t see how he could have just avoided arrest by altering time or space or whatever the hell it is he does,) which makes him have a certain fondness for the Captain. Inkubus goes on to confess to committing famous unsolved murders, some of which surpass his 100 year life cycle. Even Tom states that the murders were more than 100 years old, but the audience is apparently expected to forget a fact that was described to us no more than ten minutes earlier. Continuity!
After tensions rise at Inkubus mentioning the Captain’s apparently dead son, he proceeds to vanish into thin air, and then re-appear, prompting Tom to ask two cops to put him in a holding cell LIKE THAT’S GOING TO STOP A GUY WHO JUST VANISHED BEFORE YOUR EYES. The two cops attempt to rough Inkubus up, which of course doesn’t go well because I can’t stress it enough that he’s a demon. One of the two cops ends up being strung up in a cell by what I think was his large/small intestine, and naturally, the entire precinct goes into lock down mode.
Now, for whatever reason, confined to the prison, Inkubus proceeds to mentally screw with everyone- much like he did with the cop who was booking him earlier in the film. This long, drawn out, not-suspenseful-in-the-least sequence left me asking all sorts of questions- why is a demon even bothering with a police precinct? Shouldn’t it be off doing infinitely more creepy, demon things than this? Is there some kind of satanic fraternity Inkubus is trying to get into that requires him to sink to this level of boring haunting during Demonic Rush Week? Why are none of the characters in this movie even remotely likable? Why does the interior of this prison eerily resemble a middle school?
There’s some choppy edited scenes where a couple of secondary characters die in completely non-scary ways while another cop who isn’t Tom, his employee-girlfriend, or the Captain, decides to descend into the basement of the precinct to investigate- something? The communication control room? It’s essentially just the poor decision making made in every horror movie where someone decides to go off on their own to a darkened room. He finds one of the secondary characters dead on the floor, having been beaten to death- which leads to my favorite shot in the movie so far where, upon showing a close-up of said dead character’s body- you can see the actor breathing, clear as day. There’s absolutely no attempt in the filming or in editing to hide it. It’s incredible.
After a couple more secondary characters get killed off, complete with budget-savvy gore, Inkubus and the Captain whom he has a crush on/is feuding with finally have a show-down that involves Inkubus cutting the Captain’s case worker in half in front of him and making his dead son re-appear- or he’s not dead at all? I have no idea. I thought I had this mess figured out and they threw me a continuity curve ball that left me completely confused. Long story short, the Captain decides that the only way to beat the demon is to kill himself, but rather than make sure he gets the job done right quickly and efficiently- he shoots himself in the chest, instead. Either way, it’s enough to make Inkubus blow up in a masterpiece of CGI.
Back in the insane asylum, the Doctor who has been listening to Tom’s recall of events has reached the same conclusion that I have: that his wife’s demon spawn and consequential death have pretty much nothing to do with the rest of the Captain/Inkubus plot, and were thrown in there to give a half-assed attempt at a back story to stretch this movie to an hour and twenty minutes.
Just kidding. The Doctor does think Tom is crazy, though, and as he goes to leave- letting the staff come in to put Tom’s straitjacket on, we see the Doctor’s eyes glow red for a moment before the ending credits start to roll.
While “Inkubus” was pretty awful, I have to say that compared to the recently reviewed “Lizzie” and “Dead End,” this is Oscar-worthy material. As usual, Robert Englund is pretty fun as the wisecracking creepy guy, and even Joey Fatone, while not a fantastic actor by any means- certainly isn’t the worst I’ve seen. He does what he can with the material presented to him.
His acting is still better than Justin Timberlake’s, anyway.