Where do I begin with this film The Inheritance? I guess the best place to start in the plot itself. Five cousins drive to their family reunion during a winter storm. They hope to please the elders and secure their inheritance, a fortune that dates back to days of slavery. Their Uncle Melvin (Keith David) welcomes them, but warns them to respect their family traditions. During the weekend, strange things start to appear, blood on the windows and they learn the truths about their family legacy, blood ancestor ‘“ Chakabazz, and the ultimate sacrifice they must make in order to get what they deserve.
When I saw the box art, I laughed to be honest. I wasn’t sure if it was a film about people inheriting someone’s decapitated head or a guy who went around like the headless horseman, slicing away heads like crazy. After seeing the film, I wish they had something insane like that thrown into the film, considering this ‘horror’ film is more of a drama with a horror element thrown within the story. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Something true horror is from every day life, but in this film this isn’t the case.
Chakabazz is reborn when the elders, the heads of the families who were the ones who helped free him back in slave times, sacrifice their youngest and most able members of the family in order to sustain his hunger and to make him reborn again. That actually is a cool concept and when you have Keith David narrating parts of this story to the cousins, this is something you can’t wait to see go totally insane while the film progresses. It sadly never happens. It thinks it’s showcasing crazy visuals and a taut story, but ultimately it falls apart due to bad editing, not enough horror scares you come to expect from a film with a supernatural twinge to it and the acting falls a bit flat on a few ends.
We have a young cast, with the beautiful Rochelle Aytes as our heroine, Lily, who is the only likable character within this film. This is kind of forced down our throats, due to the fact that she is the one cousin who isn’t looking for a handout from the elders like the 4 other cousins, with their selfishness being their ruin. This is a tried and true formula for a horror film, usually in the slasher genre, where each one would get picked off in ample fashion while our ‘final girl’ either survives the ordeal or goes totally insane and dies in a hail of fury.
None of this happens and it’s a ‘cult after youths’ type of film. Being into films with Satanic cults after our heroes, like Race With the Devil, I then tried to get into this change of course with this film. The problem is, it’s an unrated horror film, but it doesn’t feel like that all. Again, this is a film that had a great concept, showing a different aspect and idea of horror and just making it a boring mess. I was 100% intrigued and behind the idea of slave era horror, showing a demonic being who was a vampire of sorts and needed to feed off of these black youths in order to keep his life going and to bestow life upon these elders who might have been alive for much longer than one can ever know. But this is an afterthought in this film and instead with get these unlikable characters who in a way had this horrible faith coming to them.
It’s not that the acting was abysmal, like some of these lower budget affairs tend to produce. Everyone is capable and any film Keith David is in has my interest piqued at least. But he’s wasted here, at one point donning a ceremonial gown and chanting ‘Chakabazz’ like the rest of the elders. In a way, with someone of his stature, you would hope he would be the heavy in this film, but Robert O’Hara is playing with too many pieces of a puzzle and sadly they aren’t part of the same set.
The film itself is bare bones, with not even a trailer included. It’s a shame, because I would have loved a commentary track to see what O’Hara would have to say to defend the film. It isn’t offensive in its content, but in its bland stereotype of the horror genre. I was really hoping for something different from a black perspective, especially with the listing of awards the film got at various film festivals. It’s because there aren’t other films like it, and that’s truly a sad state of affairs. There’s always a place for bad films but a film that is boring, bland with nothing truly going for it? That’s the true horror of The Inheritance.