Review: There’s Death Before Dawn In THE INHERITANCE

4 out of 5 stars

Director Alejandro Brugués goes for old-fashioned chills and offers up some slow-burn horror in The Inheritance. Working from a screenplay by Joe Russo and Chris LaMont, Brugués crafts the opening section like a thriller and slowly introduces the supernatural elements of the plot a little later in the game. This allows the audience to remain on the same page as the characters, building tension before delivering some good shocks when things eventually go bump in the night. 

On the eve of his 75th birthday, Bob Gunton’s billionaire businessman, Charles Abernathy calls on his four estranged children to spend the night at his gothic mansion. There’s Drew (Austin Stowell), the most sympathetic of the family who runs the charity side of the family business along with his partner Hannah (Briana Middleton). Twins, C.J. (David Walton) and Madeline (Rachel Nichols), have inherited their father’s cut-throat business attitude and the youngest sibling, Kami (Peyton List) is an online influencer who has her phone constantly in her hand. 

On arrival, they find the servants have been sent home and the house is soon locked up tight with a high-tech security system. Abernathy informs his children that his life is in danger and that someone – or something – is going to kill him. He then drops the bombshell that their inheritances will be revoked if he is found dead before dawn. Furious, incredulous and ultimately apathetic about what they think is a false alarm, they soon change their mind when one of the siblings dies. Paranoia begins to set in as they slowly begin to turn on each other, but a darker danger lurks throughout the halls and shadows of the old family home. 

The winning combination of Vincent De Paula’s cinematography and Eric Norlin’s production design means that The Inheritance looks great. The Abernathy mansion is an additional character in the film and there’s an elegance to its look and feel that creates a real sense of world-building. It’s this care and attention to detail that helps set The Inheritance apart from many films of a similar ilk. This setting offers up plenty of interesting approaches to set pieces – be that room with sinister statues or a locked air-tight vault. There’s ample room for tension and scares, and as a filmmaker, Brugués knows when to use practical effects or if some (tasteful) CGI is needed

It can be difficult to have sympathy for characters who have immense wealth and privilege – especially when you’re not supposed to like them. However, Russo and LaMont get the balance just right – and along with some good casting choices, you’ll be somewhat conflicted when the Abernathys start to die. David Walton and Rachel Nichols make for a particularly entertaining dastardly duo. Bob Gunton’s performance as the head of the Abernathy family also deserves a mention. He’s a real pro of a character actor and The Inheritance pops with added vitality when Gunton appears on screen. 

I’ve always been a sucker for one-location movies and The Inheritance delivers the goods, offering up a well-balanced mix of Knives Out and The House On Haunted Hill by way of The Haunting Of Hill House and Succession. There’s a sophistication and understanding of the horror genre that shows the team behind The Inheritance appreciates how these things work on a story level. This makes sure that The Inheritance has a few nice surprises to help make it an entertaining experience.