Found footage is, shall we say, an acquired taste.
Some horror enthusiasts absolutely loathe this approach while there are still so many devotees to the divisive subgenre.
With iconic efforts like The Blair Witch Project and Rec still towering far above more contemporary examples, there’s arguably more pressure than ever on filmmakers to offer something wild and original.
While fans are still looking for subversive found-footage titles to scare themselves senseless, attention has recently drawn attention to Incantation, a Taiwanese horror film directed and co-written by Kevin Ko, with Chang Che-wei starring as the second half of the author duo acts.
Since streaming on Friday July 8th, 2022, fans have become curious about the film’s conclusion. So there’s no better time to get the ending of Incantation explained on Netflix.
***WARNING: MAJOR JOB SPOILERS AHEAD***
Set the scene…
Before explaining the ending, it’s important to give some important context to the conclusion of the incantation.
Ronan is the film’s narrator and we are asked to recall a badge and chant an incantation – “Hou-ho-xiu-yi, si-sei-wu-ma” – to free her daughter Dodo from a curse . Memories will be inserted throughout the runtime to ensure we don’t stop helping her in her fight against evil.
Looking back at the non-linear experience the director delivers, we learn that six years ago, Ronan, her partner Dom, and his cousin Yuan performed a ritual in the Chen clan’s village.
Dom’s relatives prayed to Mother Buddha, but allowed Ronan to come in and encourage her friend and his cousin to offer their names to the deity. It is believed that Ronan will have to do the same when their daughter is born.
Things get more mysterious when they discover a girl may be being sacrificed in a forbidden tunnel. Dom and Yuan go in and in fast forward Yuan comes out hysterical. Dom, on the other hand, dies. Years later, Ronan places Dodo in foster care while she seeks help.
This brings us to the present day and Ronan and Dodo live together despite being plagued by strange activities at their home. Dodo develops an illness and Ronan’s mental health begins to decline again.
Social workers come to pick up Dodo, but her mother steals them with the care facility manager, Ming. They turn to desperate measures and ask a priest to perform an exorcism on the girl. Rules are broken and the priest and his wife are killed, forcing Ronan to flee to a hospital with Dodo.
End of Summoning explained
The helpful Ming goes to work researching the Chen clan’s religious beliefs, paying someone to restore the footage documenting the events that happened all those years ago. However, his fate is sealed when he kills himself; not before sending Ronan the footage.
It is finally revealed that Dom and Yuan have arrived at the altar of the Buddha Mother. Attempting to remove the veil that hid him, Dom became possessed and died in exactly the same way as Ming – repeatedly hitting his own head.
Now talk about unreliable narrators… Ronan reveals that she has been fooling us all along. A priest told Ming those who submit their names to the Buddha Mother and say the incantation agree to accept the curse. But the summoning actually works to suppress the curse somewhat.
The more people recite it, the weaker the curse becomes. Sure, there are more people suffering the effects, but the more people are under the curse, the less severe the effects. The source of the complex curse? The Face of the Buddha Mother; therefore it is hidden behind a veil.
Cut to Ronan covered in runes as she travels back to the altar hidden in the tunnel. She asks us our names and the veil is lifted as we are shown the face of the Buddha Mother.
The obsession takes hold and like previous victims, Ronan fatally hits his own head until we are left alone with the unsettling reality of the situation.
The film doesn’t end here.
The incantation begins eerily with footage of Dodo as a smiling girl, leaving audiences with the dreaded implication that they have now taken on part of the curse, as Ronan alluded to earlier in the film.
If you’ve been watching, you’re part of it.
It’s an inventive way to end the film, and one that will no doubt have viewers sharing nervous giggles as they search for something else to watch. Maybe a comedy might be best for the next screening!
Incantation is now streaming on Netflix.
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