Robert Englund is back, minus the striped shirt and gardening gloves – but don’t worry, he’s still gonna get you and your girlfriend with a massive knife.
Inkubus, a low-budget horror from director Glenn Ciano, follows the crew of a Rhode Island police station as they work the final shift before the station is due to be demolished. Following the murder of a teenage girl, her boyfriend is the only suspect in a crime scene with no traces of an intruder. But as he describes a phantom-like figure appearing from nowhere to commit the crime, things take a turn for the unexpected.
The film’s key scene is a supernatural twist on the moment in Se7en when Kevin Spacey’s serial killer dumbfounds everyone by handing himself in at the police station; here Englund’s cheeky demon trumps this with a severed head and some oddball dialogue (“Ah yes, a good stare – the summit where souls connect”). Cue heavy orchestral strings and an actual bell tolling doom on the soundtrack.
The film is uneven from the opening titles onward, but in a few brief moments like this it does at least manage to pull you in with a Twin Peaks-sense of the weird and unpredictable.
Englund has good fun with the role, alternately sinister and tongue-in-cheek as he confesses to crimes dating back hundreds of years – check off Jack the Ripper, The Black Dahlia, and so on. He gets around a bit. It seems his real motivation is an old score with the station’s retired Detective Gil Diamente (William Forsythe, doing his best in an underwritten role), a gruff old detective so traumatised by the fiend that he turns up at the station with his psychiatrist.
Diamente was the only one to come close to discovering the truth, although Inkubus is so forth-coming with it you have to wonder why; just as we’re wondering how and what the heck is going on, he sits down for the standard police interrogation and explains everything there is to know about himself.
If this wasn’t mundane enough for the demon – able to transport himself with just the power of his mind – for some reason he prefers to drive a knocked about transit van, stacked with severed limbs and a guide he’s written explaining his mythology.
From here on the ideas run out and his devious plan amounts to the police getting lost in their own station, literally running up an endless flight of stairs at one point, and getting picked off one by one in ways that are more random than fiendish. Ciano’s direction generally fails to get the impact from what should be the most creepy and shocking moments.
Unlike Freddy Kruger, who can only exist through people’s nightmares, Inkubus has no limits set on his reality-bending powers, so from the beginning the film is a one man carnival show, but without the budget or invention of the Elm Street films. To be fair though, Inkubus is just about naff and amusing enough that it’s hard to really dislike, especially with the odd inspired line like “I just ran his prints, I got ten different names, a different name for each finger!” At worst you could say its use of the female characters is a bit reductive, making sure that each of them might as well be shagged or molested before being dismembered with the rest of the cast.
If Inkubus is an attempt at starting a new franchise, there’s actually a lot of potential – but this film is just not clever enough to live up to the promise that Englund shows with the character.