What happens when you combine Knives Out, a supernatural entity, Ready Or Not, and the episode “The Masks” of The Twilight Zone? You get something close to The Inheritance. The familial horror movie from director Alejandro Brugues and writers Chris LaMont and Joe Russo (who did the excellent Soul Mates last year). It stars a cavalcade of “those guys/girls” that you’ll immediately recognize alongside some up-and-coming stars. The story here is simple.

A billionaire on the eve of his 75th birthday, invites his estranged children back home out of fear that tonight someone or something is going to kill him. He puts each of their inheritances on the line, to make sure they’ll help.

An unknown killer is going to kill Charles Abernathy unless his family can help. It stars Peyton List, Rachel Nichols, Austin Stowell, Bob Gunton, David Walton, and Briana Middleton. Each of the family members takes up the mantle of familial archetypes. Kami (Peyton List) is the traditional younger sibling, has everything catered to her, and is also chronically online and on her phone. Drew (Austin Stowell) is the “good son”; he’s into charity and vastly different from the rest of his siblings. Drew is married to Hannah (Brianna Middleton), who is a new addition to the family and taken to Charles like a daughter, except his other two kids, Madeline (Rachel Nichols) and C.J. (David Walton), despise her.

These dynamics are the heart of The Inheritance. They play off one another until the blood starts flowing. Peyton List is easily the highlight of the group, her role giving the film some much-needed levity. It’s a shame that she’s the first one taken out by the supernatural entity, but it’s the catalyst for the rest of the movie, so it was needed.

Peyton List in The Inheritance.

Once The Inheritance kicks into high gear, the film doesn’t let up right until the end. The scares and monster effects here are pretty damn top-notch for an independent film. There’s enough chemistry between the family members to carry the film all the way through as well. When bodies start dropping, you can feel it from the performers, especially David Walton. Briana Middleton gets the best moments in the third act when everything fully unravels to show the treachery of the Abernathy family on full display. If you’ve seen Bob Gunton in movies like The Shawshank Redemption or TV like 24, you know he’s a pro. He tears into this material and knows exactly what kind of performance is needed.

LaMont and Russo’s writing is similar to their other scripts if you’ve seen movies like Soul Mates or The Au Pair Nightmare. It’s got some humor, but they know when to bring it down into horror territory to really get under your skin. The only place where it feels like someone got the short end of the stick was Drew. He’s just the classic good guy and doesn’t ever really go past that point to show some wrinkles to his character. Everyone else gets some moments to shine, whether that’s badass action for Hannah, general hilarity from Kami, or the slow realization that their family is unraveling from C.J. and Madeline.

The cast of The Inheritance

For those body horror hounds out there, The Inheritance even verges into that territory with some of the monster and effects in the film. Don’t let the jokey sort of exterior of the film fool you, The Inheritance still packs plenty of punch. If you’re in the mood for a mish-mash of genres with some creatures, familial dynamics turned upside down, and even a vault-escape; The Inheritance is for you.

The Inheritance releases in limited theaters and On Demand on July 12th, 2024.

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