The Inheritance (2024) Review: An Insipid Horror Film Lacking Genuine Scare and Terror

Originally set for Netflix release before the movie was sold to Vertical, The Inheritance — initially titled The Last Will and Testament of Charles Abernathy — made its mark as one of 2018 Blood List’s top unproduced genre screenplays in the horror category.

And yet, I can’t help that Chris LaMont and Joe Russo’s (no, not that Russo) screenplay feels like it was straight out of the assembly line which reminds me of those horror movies revolving around the characters trapped in an old mansion. We have seen them in movies from The Haunting (both original & remake) to Ready or Not and this year’s Abigail.

But a familiar setup can result in a bloody fun and visceral horror if the filmmaker knows how to make good use of the subgenre to one’s advantage. It was something that Abigail did reasonably well by combining the heist movie and vampire tropes. In The Inheritance, the movie begins with a small group of characters arriving at the mansion. The mansion in question belongs to the family patriarch and billionaire, Charles Abernathy (Bob Gunton) and he has invited his four adult children on the eve of his 75th birthday. His children include Drew (Austin Stowell), who brings along his wife Hannah (Briana Middleton). The others are Madeline (Rachel Nichols) and C.J. (David Walton), and Kami (Peyton List), who is a social media influencer.

It turns out Charles’ invitation has less to do with his birthday celebration but more to protect him from someone or something coming to claim his life at the stroke of midnight. He even chooses to send his employees and even the security back home for the night because he only trusts his children. However, he never expects Hannah would come since the invitation is explicitly meant for the immediate family members. But she insists on staying with her husband.

The Inheritance in the title refers to Charles’ stipulation that if the family manages to keep him alive throughout the night, they will inherit his fortune. But anything that happens to him will end up with his inheritance donated straight to his charity foundation.

And so it begins

That’s the words Charles tells to everybody after all the doors in the mansion are locked shut. What follows next is a typical story of surviving-the-night-in-the-mansion moments with one by one facing the doom. Alejandro Brugués, whose credits include directing segments of the horror anthologies ABCs of Death 2, Nightmare Cinema and Satanic Hispanics and zombie comedy Juan of the Dead (Juan de los Muertos), leaves no cliché unturned for most of the movie. You will find obligatory jump scares and things-that-go-bump-in-the-night set pieces as he plays it straight without attempting anything fresh or compelling. The kills are predictable and how I wish Brugués and cinematographer Vincent De Paula would spend more effort on the camerawork to evoke some genuine tension and thrills.

Save for Bob Gunton and Briana Middleton’s decent turns in their respective roles, the rest of the characters even the presence of Rachel Nichols and Peyton List of Cobra Kai and School Spirits fame are largely undermined by their thankless performances. The story feels like a slog struggling to reach the finish line with its erratic pacing, making the otherwise 96-minute length drag longer than it should. It doesn’t help either when the dialogues suffer from stilted line delivery.

The Inheritance did offer a twist beyond its standard-issue horror trappings but instead of keeping me intrigued regarding the real reason behind Charles’ intentions, it falls flat. If only the story was interesting enough with thrilling set pieces, this movie might have worked amid all the familiarity.