THE INHERITANCE is a film that deserves to be seen. It’s a film that doesn’t go for the easy scares and takes the horrors seriously. Writer / director Robert O’Hara seems to want to produce an intelligent horror film, filled with African American actors, dealing with African American themes, but not falling into the trappings most African American films feel the need to adhere to. There might be something fun about films like SNOOP DOGG’S HOOD OF HORROR or THE BLACK DEVIL DOLL or TALES FROM THE HOOD, but in the end, the film plays on the basest of stereotypes and although I’m not an African American, if I were, I’d be embarrassed of the portrayal of African Americans in most horror outings.
Usually in horror films, folks of color are either played for laughs as a ludicrously animated fool or the fourth wall breaker stating what the audience is feeling (“Sheeeeeit, y’all must be crazy. I ain’t going down dat dark hallway.”). THE INHERITANCE shatters all of those stereotypes casting an attractive, intelligent, successful, and talented group of African American actors in roles where the characters have all of the complexities of the real world.
The cast, lead by Rochelle Aytes, is the most likable thing in THE INHERITANCE. Five cousins gather in the snowy countryside to meet for a family reunion. All of them have eyes on the family fortune for different reasons. But upon arriving there, the five find an empty house with a kitchen full of food and wine. The cousins celebrate, catch up with one another, argue and make up. In this first period of the film, O’Hara establishes these strong characters; crucial for the hells that are in store for them.
Soon Keith David shows up and with him are more creepy elders of the family. The elders have ulterior motives for their younger relatives involving a curse that dates back to the times of slavery and voodoo. THE INHERITANCE does a great job of making the viewer care about these appealing twenty-somethings, then puts them through the ringer in a creepy, creepy way. Soon little voodoo creepies begin attacking the house and the cousins and as they fight amongst themselves over the money they want from the elders, they hardly notice the insidious things going on under their noses until its too late.
Basing this story on greed and tradition, O’Hara crafts a nuanced tale that respects and plumbs the rich history of African American culture in America, explores themes of societies attention to monetary gain, and dissects familial relationships and the goods and the bads that accompany them. THE INHERITANCE offers up intelligent themes for discussion, then looks at them through the lens of a horror film. Though THE INHERITANCE falters a bit at the end when reasoning sort of jumps out the window and everything hinders on a silly email being sent, the ride there is populated by characters I wanted to see more of and chills to keep things interesting along the way. First and foremost, this is an effective and intelligent horror film. Though it isn’t necessarily right, because there as so few films of this type (treating the main characters as actors and not stereotypical black actors), THE INHERITANCE stands out as an effective and intelligent African American horror film. Hopefully, more films like THE INHERITANCE will be made so this differentiation doesn’t have to be the case for long.