Since hitting local theaters in Taiwan in March 2022, the Taiwanese blockbuster has been incantation was eagerly awaited by Chinese-speaking audiences worldwide. The film that quickly became the highest-grossing Taiwanese film of the year and the top-selling Taiwanese Horror movie of All Time was released to a global audience on Netflix on July 8th.
Directed by Kevin Ko, the film follows a series of curse-induced paranormal events experienced by protagonist Ronan (Tsai Hsuan-yen) and her daughter Dodo (Huang Sin-ting).
The origin of the curse stems from a journey Ronan made years earlier: visiting a remote area in Yunnan ProvinceShe broke a religious taboo but was unaware that the spell would affect loved ones.
Years later, Ronan is reunited with her birth daughter – only then do supernatural and spooky events begin to unfold.
Partly inspired through actual events, incantation could ring trust those who remember a bizarre incident that took place in Kaohsiung, Taiwan in 2005: a family of six claimed to be possessed by deities from Chinese folk religions, fed on feces, and burned each other with incense to “exorcise the demons “. The incident resulted in the tragic deaths of the family’s two daughters.
Just a few days later incantation‘s Netflix release, nearly 70,000 users had marked the film as “watched” on the Chinese rating platform Douban. Another 84,000 people added it to their watchlist.
But is the film really worth the hype?
Chinese netizens were wondering the same thing over the weekend when a hashtag related to the film went viral on Weibo, amassing more than 260 million views. A second more specific hashtag asking “Is incantation creepy?” (#咒吓人吗#) had nearly 200 million views at the time of writing.
As it turned out, many viewers were hardly intimidated by the film.
“I’ve been waiting for this movie for so long, but it didn’t even scare me,” reads one of them Comments.
“It’s not that scary, but the hype is real,” said a more appreciative viewer of his Known post has resonated with other internet users.
Scary or not, the horror film has managed to stand out in a sea of uninteresting Chinese-language horror films. to say many viewers.
The lack of outstanding horror films in mainland China can be attributed to the China Film Administration’s strict rules. Commonly used tropes in horror films – such as ghosts, religions, and cults – often fall under the label of “superstition” and are severely affected by censorship.
A lot has been invested in Douban users in particular incantation‘s Unique selling point.
Editor’s Note: Spoilers ahead; you have been warned!
in the incantation‘s In the opening scene, Ronan breaks the fourth wall and asks the audience to memorize a badge and recite a spell that will supposedly break the curse and help her daughter survive.
At the end of the film, however, it is revealed that the more people cursed, the weaker the spell. While this might sound like a good thing at first, it does imply that the spectators who recited the spell will also be cursed. Film director Ko borrowed the idea from Internet culture, specifically “damn” chain emails and messages.
Netizens are divided by this unexpected twist in the film: Those terrified have discouraged religious guys from watching the film, but unaffected viewers have poked fun at the film on Chinese social media.
“It’s really well shot and the atmosphere is scary enough, but when I found out in the last scene that the director was captivating the viewers, I felt like I had gone too far,” reads a Weibo comment with over 7,000 likes.
Do you dare with the curse? if you do incantation makes for an interesting watch and is an excellent introduction to the realm of Chinese-language horror films. And no, we’re not trying to save our ass or lessen the effects of the curse by looping you in…
Watch the movie Netflix
Cover image via Weibo