Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Inhabitants

Sometimes you really feel terrible about not liking a movie. The Rasmussen Brothers invited me to their screening personally, included talk about hanging out after the movie in their emails, and I appreciate the heck out of being included with the local genre film folks who either have a much bigger reach than me or are actively making stuff happen, either with festivals or films of their own. Getting that sort of invitation and then using it to say that the movie wasn't your thing kind of feels like you've been a poor guest.

Still, I like focus in my horror movies. Have your monsters represent something that should make the audience uneasy, frightened, or angry and never lose sight of that; always keep coming back to it. The Inhabitants never really finds that thing, especially once you take the video cameras into consideration. They've really got nothing to do with the curse of the midwife, ad the moments where they put some blurry skin on-screen feel more like distractions than titillations or violations.


There's also a real missed opportunity to connect the women in an interesting way - I wondered well after the film ended if Jessica had been a surrogate; like a midwife, an essential part of bringing a child into the world under certain conditions but cast aside after. Create this line of women that have sheltered, cared for, and fed the demon children of the title in order to satisfy the maternal connections that they aren't considered to have earned.

I kind of think that's what the filmmakers were going for, but with just the one glimpse of the ultrasound photo and all the time spent on the hidden cameras, there's just not enough meat to it.


... and, finally, one venue-related note. I've wound up seeing a fair number of horror movies in the Somerville Theatre's Micro-cinema between this, All Things Horror, and a couple other things, but I think this is the first one where the house being old and having old-house noises was a big part of the plot. The seats in that room squeak a lot, and because you often have to lean forward to see the full screen over the next row with its very gentle slope, the audience winds up generating a lot of "false positives" in terms of creaking!

The Inhabitants

* * (out of four)
Seen 9 October 2015 in the Somerville Theatre Micro-cinema (special screening, Blu-ray)

Michael & Shawn Rasmussen shot The Inhabitants inside a historic house that has genuine secret passages and stories of hauntings, and it sometimes seems like it provided a little too much inspiration. This film has a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and you wind up with a few scary moments but no one idea is ever strong enough to bury into the viewer's head and truly terrify.

That haunted house is, naturally, just outside Salem, Massachusetts, a bed & breakfast being purchased by young couple Dan (Michael Reed) & Jessica (Elise Couture), as the current owner, Rose (Judith Chaffee), is no longer capable of operating it as a business - or, really, living on her own. It apparently needs a fair amount of sprucing-up before re-opening, and when Dan is called away to Chicago for business, Jess finds herself beset by both the place's sordid history and some trouble-making local kids.

The Rasmussens seem to have started with a reasonably strong idea for a horror movie - a legend about a midwife persecuted for witchcraft whose beyond-the-grave revenge persists to this very day. It not only twists a position of trust into something dangerous, but it gives the filmmakers seventeenth-century medical tools with which to creep the audience out and a reasonable connection to a present-day woman's own fears. When they're building and digging into this mythology, The Inhabitants is genuinely creepy.

Full review on EFC.

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