So the word is that slavery pretty much sucked ass. My great-grandmother was born into it so I get this word from first hand sources. Actually from second hand sources passed down to me from first hand sources. But for the family that we will be dealing with today… well… they found a workaround. Is this a good thing? For some of them, yeah. For the young adults we’re about to spend some quality with? Not so much as they drive out to the middle of nowhere in the dead of winter to receive their ‘Inheritance’.
It’s family reunion time. Julie (Jenny Weaver) asks her husband Martin (Edward Nattenberg)… note that both Julie and Martin are white… but Julie asks ‘What kind of Black family has a family reunion in the dead of winter?’ Julie… none that I know of. She also asks, in her special condescending way, ‘are they going to barbeque?’ Julie… if they weren’t going to be threatened with horrible death later… more than likely.
At this out of the way country estate we meet Cousin Karen (Golden Brooks) who is a Medical Doctor suffering from some cramp issues. That’s relevant. She’s riding with her cousin Henry (D.B. Woodside) who used to be boxer and I believe Karen and Henry are in a relationship. I don’t know if they are first cousins or not, but if they are then this is probably a bad idea, genetically speaking. Then there’s Cousin Lily (Rochelle Aytes) a lesbian chef who drove with Cousin Tyrone (Darrin Dewitt Henson) and I forgot what he does. Finally there’s Cousin Simpson (Shawn Michael Howard) who is some kind of computer programmer who rode up with the white people Julie and Martin. Simpson doesn’t drive, plus the Elders that they’ve come to meet are loaded to the gills and Simpson and his partners, the white people, have a pitch to make.
First things first. Uncle Melvin (Keith David) has yet to arrive but he did leave a case of wine and a few ounces of that wacky tobaccy that you crazy kids like to smoke. So they drink, smoke, eat and party, at least until the bloody words show up on the window which freaks Cousin Lily completely out. And rightfully so. They calm Lily down, everybody goes to sleep except the white folks who are really horny so they go do what horny people tend to do. Guess who’s the first to go in THIS movie?
When our cousins wake up they see that the eight Elders have arrived. They gather the young people in some chairs and tell them a rather dramatic story about how their ancestors escaped the bondage of slavery, basically through the spells of a demon named Chakabazz (Lande Idewu), and now it’s all good for the generations of this family forever. That is as long as they do that thing they need to do when the time comes to do it.
What is that thing? Therein lies the rub. It’s a little thing called blood sacrifice and these poor people are it. Now cell phones have stopped working, doors lock all by themselves, Uncle Melvin and the elders have gone completely nuts, cousins are missing and presumed dead, the evil strawmen have come to life and Chakabazz is on his way to claim his offering. Good luck.
The problem that I had with ‘The Inheritance’, written and directed by Robert O’Hara, was that this was a horror movie that simply wasn’t scary. Not even a little bit. In fact the only thing that actually scared me in this movie was the thought that Rochelle Aytes might actually be a lesbian. NOOOOOOOOOOO!!! But the fact that ‘The Inheritance’ wasn’t scary doesn’t make it a bad movie. It makes it a bad horror movie, which it was supposed to be, but it wasn’t that bad of a movie to sit through.
A lot of this was due to the solid cast and the story supporting what these characters were about to go through. O’Hara did take the time to setup his characters, give them some personality to work with and they all played off of each other very well so when the bad stuff started happening to them we were genuinely concerned about their well being. Somewhat. A lot of them were assholes, but that doesn’t mean wanted to see them die.
The myth supporting the story was also well constructed, including the flashback of the slaves, giving just a smidgen of information on why these people would follow some cat who had just got himself hung, removed the noose from his dead neck and then started talking in tongues making grand promises, ala Satan. Under normal circumstances you would run from this guy, and some did, but slavery wasn’t normal circumstances. It also helps to have the silky smooth dulcet tones of Keith David telling this story.
Still, ‘The Inheritance’ is a horror / thriller and those elements were simply absent in this movie for the most part. I don’t know nearly enough about the craft of filmmaking to say with absolute certainty why the horror elements weren’t working, but I can say I found the strawmen to be more silly than scary, and I’m thinking I would’ve grabbed some lighter fluid and a match to be done with them, and the beat and the pulse that one would expect from a horror / thriller were off kilter. The atmosphere was good, cold and foreboding, but the execution was off.
‘The Inheritance’ is a conundrum. Well acted, good story, only it just didn’t work as a horror movie. Look at that box cover… I think it’s supposed it’s supposed to be horror movie, but it just wasn’t a good horror movie.