A scene from The IncidentThere was a bit of a commotion at the Midnight Madness screening of The Incident: two people passed out some time after the midway point of the film. Guess they weren’t expecting the torture porn either.

George (Rupert Evans) is the cook at an asylum for the criminally insane. He and his friends/bandmates serve the inmates through a hole cut into thick glass that protects them from any physical confrontations. On most days, things are kept adequately under control by J.B. (Dave Legeno), the head guard. Then a storm knocks the power out and all hell breaks loose. The patients awaken from their typical sedated, zombie stupor to indulge their murderous fantasies on anyone they can get their hands on.

The narrative is set in 1989, creating an automatic excuse for the delay in outside assistance – no cellphones. Moreover, the exploration of the relationships of the grungy garage band who are also best friends and co-workers provided a satisfactory peek into the dynamics that would come into play later. The top half of the picture is by far the better section with a greater focus on the characters and their plight versus the inmates and their sadistic appetites.

For anyone working in an asylum or prison, this narrative is the on-screen manifestation of their worst nightmare. And director Alexandre Courtes is sure to explore every dark corner of that fear – and then he takes it further. As the civilians walk the eerie halls, the atmosphere is similar to walking through a haunted house or maze with the expectation that something is about to jump out. The movie starts as a psychological thriller in which everyone’s presumptions make them cautious and anxious; then it escalates into a violent drive for freedom; and finally it becomes a gruesome display of suffering. That’s where it lost me and any semblance of a storyline. George is transformed from the film’s protagonist to its victim/pawn/punching bag.

Some of the plot devices do not make sense, such as why the patients are so non-drowsy on this fateful night except for possibly a terrible coincidence. In addition, the conclusion isn’t clear cut unless you simply apply the “crazy” explanation. In the end, what began as a promising, bloody thriller devolves into a meaningless, excessive array of violence and gore.

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