Directed by Kevin Ko, Netflix’s Incantation is a Taiwanese horror film recorded as a found-footage. In this film, Lee Ronan makes a documentary about meeting his 6-year-old daughter, Dodo. But when Dodo starts behaving strangely, Ronan must come to terms with a dark taboo he broke years ago. Now his family is cursed. Can he break it to save his daughter?
What taboo did Ronan, Dom and Yuan break?
For a long time, Incantion has kept us in the dark. At the beginning of the film, Ronan writes a message about breaking a taboo with dire consequences.
It is later revealed that Ronan (then pregnant with Dodo), her boyfriend Dom, and Yuan investigated a religious ceremony six years ago. There they sneaked into a creepy (and forbidden) tunnel.
Ronan was too ill to go deeper into the tunnel, but Dom and Yuan explored further. When they fixed their gaze on the statue of the Mother Buddha, her curse caused their death.
Ronan is also cursed for entering the tunnel. After getting out, he works briefly in a mental institution and has to give up his daughter. Six years later, she is reunited with Dodo, but the curse is not over with her or her daughter.
What happens to the dodo?
When Ronan takes him out of foster care, Dodo starts seeing “bad guys” everywhere. At one point, they make him sing a song (the same one Ronan asks the audience to remember at the beginning of the film). Dodo is then paralyzed.
Ronan tries to help him, but Dodo only falls ill, eventually ending up in a coma in the hospital.
What does Ronan discover about Mother Buddha, magic and symbols?
With the help of Dodo’s foster father, Ronan pieces together the details of Dodo’s curse in order to save him. He discovers that the cult members worship the Mother Buddha, a malevolent deity.
Those in the cult repeat an incantation and make a symbol with their hands that invites the curse of the Mother Buddha upon themselves. The burden is greatest when looking at the face of Mother Buddha like Dom and Yuan.
Is Ronan lying to the viewers of his documentary?
Ronan reveals these details at the end of the film, suggesting that his found footage misdirected his audience earlier. Early in the film, Ronan asks us to memorize a Buddhist incantation and hand symbol. He asks us to read a spell to save his daughter.
However, Ronan later apologizes. Ever since he first visited the tunnel, it has been known that participating in magic is part of the curse. He misleads his viewers because sharing about the curse also lessens the curse. Ronan believes that the only way to save Dodo is to invite others to curse him.
Does Ronan break the curse and save Dodo?
With Dodo in the hospital and unlikely to recover, Ronan re-enters the tunnel. This time he explores deeper, like Yuan and Dom. But it justifies everything they damaged six years ago.
He then shows the Mother Buddha’s face to the camera, hoping that the curse will be diluted enough to save Dodo. But the curse soon becomes too much for Ronan to bear, and he commits suicide.
At the end of the incantation, we see a short clip of Dodo alive and happy. It seems that Ronan’s theory was correct and his footage was found and viewed. He managed to save his daughter.