THE INHERITANCE **** USA / Ukraine 2020 Dirs: Chad Barager, Kevin Speckmaier. 87 mins
This film is what I consider a slow burning take on the haunted house genre. Horror fans should look elsewhere if you are looking for a fix because this is a film of a different breed. The central set is a gorgeous townhouse located in Kiev and as the film slowly settles into its paces, we are basically introduced to an American couple where Natalia Ryumina is portraying Sasha, the wife that is lucky enough to inherit the centrally located real estate. Her partner, Peter (Nick Wittman), is a typical one note stereotypical American in a foreign locale, cracking wise when given the opportunity. Thankfully he departs from the majority of the film leaving Sasha the burden of reacting to various noises and doors that refuse to stay closed.
Given the architecture on display and the generous framing and lighting by cinematographer Ryan Petey the grandeur of the place is definitely attractive. There’s plenty of darkened corridors and even a concealed doorway behind a large chifforobe. The scares are rather limp and the huge revelation about who or what is haunting the place is a disappointment overall. I kept on thinking about the film Burnt Offerings (Dan Curtis, 1976) which mined a similar vein, but ultimately rewarded viewers with a creepier setting and a terrific cast as well. Yes, sometimes less is more but this film, even though it looked promising, was a case of undiminished returns. I also contemplated what an auteur like Dario Argento could produce back in his heyday, ala Deep Red (1975) with a similar story line; there the hidden room is the kicker that Barager and Speckmaier wish they had thought of.
The small cast is very good given their limited screen time, but it is truly the townhouse that is the star of the production. If you find yourself craving a good old fashioned ghost story, then I can enthusiastically recommend The Inheritance, but The Haunting (1963, Robert Wise), it ain’t. Perhaps this film would do better screened in a theater around Halloween.
Review by Robert Segedy