Image Entertainment // 2010 // 84 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Daryl Loomis // March 11th, 2011
"What have you put inside of me?"
Called upon for a mysterious family reunion, five cousins from different backgrounds converge on a winter cabin hoping to bilk money out of their family elders, who are apparently drowning in cash. They arrive to a night of good drink and good drugs, but they awake the next morning to something much more disturbing: old people with drums! Forced downstairs to the reunion ceremony, they realize they are at the mercy of a two-hundred-year-old witch doctor from Africa who survived slavery and uses the blood of generations to keep his powers alive.
Even if The Inheritance isn't a bit scary, it's still pretty good; surprisingly so, really. The characters call themselves cousins, but they're unrelated by blood. Instead, their families have been close since the times of slavery and, after they became free, stayed extremely close through the generations. The current group's discovery of how that freedom was obtained makes up the bulk of the plot. It's a strange story based in African witchcraft of a kind I haven't seen before. It works basically like any other spooky house movie, but the racial twist gives it some novelty. It runs the risk of seeming exploitative, but writer/director Robert O'Hara, in his first feature, never takes the film down that road. Aside from the origin story and the funny, self-referential fate of the film's only white characters.
The Inheritance features an all-black cast, notable for its sheer rarity in genre films anymore. It's an excellent and experienced group of actors, featuring Keith David (Platoon), D.B. Woodside (24: Season 6), Rochelle Aytes (Trick 'r Treat), and Novella Nelson (The Cotton Club). They may not be the most well known, but it's a great group that does a very good job and makes the characters are more compelling than the horror (another serious rarity in the genre). They have good chemistry together and O'Hara writes their interplay well, giving them more life than in a lot of horror.
Unfortunately, the nice interactions and good characters come at the price of the horror which is anemic at best. The monster often materializes as a guy in a burlap sack, few of the shocks work at all, and the gore is nearly non-existent. Had O'Hara gone for a more psychological approach to the horror, it may have fared better, but The Inheritance works better as a character study than it does a supernatural thriller.
Image Entertainment sent a screener for review of The Inheritance, but the technical results are pretty good. Aside from the black and white moments at the start of each chapter, the image is very good. It's a dark film, but there's plenty of detail and the colors look good. The stereo sound is loud, but unspectacular. There are no extras.
An excellent cast and a fairly novel idea make for a better-than-average genre entry. It's not particularly scary, but I got more than I expected.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Image Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 84 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated