‘Inheritance’ review: ‘Room’ meets ‘Succession’ in a nonsensical trap door thriller

Count yourself lucky that cinemas aren't open for you to waste your money on this

Anyone worried about how bad the US remake of Parasite might be should probably avoid Inheritance – a film that takes a decent plot about buried basement secrets and churns it into a thick, boring butter of dumb ideas that aren’t even fun enough to laugh at. Written like a first draft, directed with an impressive eye for monotony and madly overacted by two stars who both should have known better, it’s a thrill-less thriller that feels twice as long as it actually is.

Lily Collins (Mirror Mirror) is Lauren Monroe – hot-shot DA, obsessive walker-and-talker, and eldest heir to an American power dynasty that includes a politician brother (Chase Crawford, from Gossip Girl), a forgettable mother (Connie Nielsen from Gladiator) and a banker dad (Patrick Warburton, adding the film’s only laughs if you close your eyes and imagine him reprising his role as Kronk in The Emperor’s New Groove).

When dad dies of a heart attack, the family assemble for the reading of the will: Mum gets the mansion, son gets the money, and daughter gets… Simon Pegg in a witch wig. “We all make mistakes,” shrugs Warburton in an early flashback (echoing everyone involved in the film), “This was mine”. It turns out he’d been friends with Pegg’s mysterious playboy in his coked-up youth, and a sinister secret saw him lock Pegg’s character up in an underground garden bunker for over 30 years.

When Lauren inherits the key to her dad’s trap door, she finds a frightened old man chained to the wall, begging for his life. For some reason, she does what absolutely no one would do in the same situation: she gets angry, locks him back up and spends weeks trying to slowly, painfully, work out who he is.

Inheritance
Simon Pegg plays a man who’s been locked up in a basement for 30 years. Credit: Signature Entertainment

That Lauren’s odd reaction makes no human sense at all is only one of the script’s many contrivances designed to keep the focus on shuffling paperwork and half-arsed detective stories. By the time the big family secret is spilled it’s impossible to care about any of it – since everyone in the film feels less like a real person and more like something screenwriter Matthew Kennedy scribbled on the back of a popcorn box after he watched The Room. Or Succession. Or I Know What You Did Last Summer.

To make things worse, Collins and Pegg both overcompensate for their underwritten characters in bafflingly different ways. Collins gets really loud and shouty whenever she hears something mildly affecting, giving her lines the most of everything, and Pegg plays his hermit psycho as low-key as possible – gently playing with rats and mumbling about Key Lime Pie in a low growl that sounds like he’s auditioning for Batman.

Inheritance
Lily Collins and Patrick Warburton in ‘Inheritance’. Credit: Signature Entertainment

Surely someone so good at comedy understands how ridiculous this all is? Nudge the film a few steps closer to the absurd and it would almost be fun to watch, but director Vaughn Stein (following up his starry 2018 flop Terminal) makes sure everything is hung with the heaviest of atmospheres – using grey palettes, slow edits and dirgey background music to run the whole film as one low, steady hum.

Skipping the cinema and heading straight to pay-per-view streamers, it’s hard to imagine anyone spending money on this and not feeling short-changed – and it’s harder still to imagine it not quietly slipping out on Amazon or Netflix in a few months if you’re really that curious. Some things should stay buried in the basement.

Details

  • Director: Vaughn Stein
  • Starring: Lily Collins, Simon Pegg, Connie Nielsen
  • Release date: July 6 (Digital)
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