by Cat McAlpine
Lauren learns of her father’s untimely death from an aggressive reporter shoving a microphone in her face. There isn’t a lot of room for privacy when you’re a part of the Monroe family. Lauren is Manhattan’s District Attorney. Her brother, William, is running for congressional reelection. The Monroes are in the news and in the spotlight.
Unfortunately, the harsher the light, the darker the shadows. When her father’s will saddles her with a cruel inheritance and a bunker full of secrets, Lauren has to explore what she’s willing to do for the family name.
Simon Pegg has above and beyond the best performance here as the villainous Morgan Warner. It’s not just his excellent dialect work (as always) that helps him disappear into the role, but his commitment creating a full, if not deranged, character. The film’s weak script and loose plot points fail to support his choices, and often leave him out to dry, making Pegg cartoonish when he’s meant to be menacing.
Lily Collins falters as Lauren because she has so little to build on. The family dynamic itself is vague and cold. Brief flashbacks reveal a tumultuous relationship with her father, but little else is done to explore Lauren’s relationships. Lauren is grappling with how she chooses to remember her father, but he’s given no redeeming characteristics and frankly, neither is she.
The rest of the cast suffers a similar fate, with characters barely introduced, underdeveloped, and quickly discarded, resulting in stiff deliveries and people you simply don’t care about. That makes it hard to buy in to a story that hinges on putting it all on the line for family.
All said, this film lacks the commitment it needs to be memorable. In an effort, maybe, to keep mainstream, Inheritance only skims the horror/thriller genres instead of really getting its hands bloody. Penned by Matthew Kennedy (his first) Inheritance works too hard at the top, and gets the pacing all wrong. While it hits a much better tempo later on, director Vaughn Stein (Terminal) piles on with some impatient cuts that make the story feel rushed.
Too little too late comes a breakneck plot twist that attempts to definitively draw a line between the good guys and the bad guys. In the dark, there are only shades of gray, but Inheritance isn’t elegant enough to navigate them. The film’s tiptoeing around the darkest inclinations of the family patriarch rob the story of its real moral dilemma and its real fun.
There is definitely fun to be had in the final 20 minutes of the film. You just have to make it that far.