Incarnation DVD review: die, respawn, repeat

An amnesiac must figure out why masked men are killing him in Serbian SF Incarnation

There’s always room for a good spin on the old Groundhog Day formula, whether it’s a blockbuster (Edge Of Tomorrow), a horror (Happy Death Day) or a thriller (A Day). Serbian film Incarnation feels like it stands out because of the intensity of its focus. We’re used to figuring out what the deal is in these kinds of films pretty early on (or we at least get some pretty heavy hints), but director Filip Kovacevic and his co-writers Masa Senicic and Ivan Stancic keep us as clueless as poor Covek (Stojan Djordjevic), who wakes up on a street bench with no memory and barely has time to ask where he is before a group of masked men walk towards him and shoot him.

Of course, he wakes up in exactly the same spot and the exact same thing happens. On the plus side, Covek keeps the memories of each go-round whenever he finds himself having to start over again, but each road he goes down seems to lead to the same fate, no matter what he tries. Can he figure out who these people are and why they’re after him, or is he doomed to live out his death for the rest of eternity?

The running time is kept sensibly short and pieces of information are evenly handed out throughout the film. The decision to play the whole thing completely straight and humourless makes for some compelling dramatic moments but it does mean it drags a little in the middle when it could use a burst of energy. However, the revelation of who is doing this to our hero and why is genuinely surprising and there are some solid chase sequences and impressively muscular fight sequences. Incarnation will keep you guessing until its big reveal.