Movie Review: The Inhabitants

Published on October 12th, 2015 in: Current Faves, Horror, Movie Reviews, Movies, Reviews |

By Jeffery X Martin

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After a year of being disappointed by movies about haunted houses, witches, and/or creepy kids, it’s refreshing to find a movie that combines all three of those things and does it the proper way: lean, mean, and well, scary. You know. Like a horror movie is supposed to be.

The Inhabitants is a low-to-no budget flick from The Rasmussen Brothers, the sibling team who wrote John Carpenter’s last movie, The Ward. Co-writing and co-directing the movie seems to have been the better choice than handing the material over to someone else, because the Rasmussens load the movie with personal touches and visual cues that set The Inhabitants apart from most of the current glut of under-financed horror.

Jessica (Elise Couture-Stone) and Dan (Michael Reed) have just bought a bed and breakfast in picturesque New England, deep in the heart of witch hunt country. The building itself is one of the oldest in the entire state, and it has a history of its own. The previous owners also left behind their furniture and appliance, both old and new. Renovating the building leads to some interesting discoveries, and before you know it, things get weird.

It sounds formulaic, and it is to an extent, but the Rasmussens have a few tricks up their sleeves that keep The Inhabitants from being too predictable. I’ve always felt that one of the signs of good film direction is being able to pull off misdirection. The viewer is staring at something in the foreground when the real action is going on in a corner way in the back. The Rasmussens are experts at this, not letting any shot linger too long. This gives the whole movie a sense of pervasive dread, like anything could be lurking behind any corner, under any chair.

The information is parsed out slowly in this story, and that also works to the film’s advantage. The viewer can’t solve the mystery without all the clues, and the Rasmussens play it close to the chest. That makes the third act even weirder and more disconcerting than one expects.

The camerawork is a little shaky, unintentionally, I believe, but this no grotty little found footage film. The acting, particularly from male lead Michael Reed, who looks like a combination of Scott Speedman and Dolph Ziggler, is excellent. Reed never strikes a false note. One hopes this leads to bigger and better things for him.

Halloween time usually brings around a lot of bloated movies, released to capitalize on the spooky vibe this time of year. It also tends to bring us four or five new Danny Trejo movies, and I’m okay with that. But you could do far worse with your entertainment dollar than spending it on The Inhabitants. It’s easily as good as Ti West’s House of the Devil, which is high comparative praise, but it also stands on its own as high caliber fright film making for about the cost of a pitcher of Kool-Aid.

The Inhabitants will be out on VOD October 13 from Gravitas Ventures.

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