What would you do if you walked into a locked underground facility that your recently deceased, shady father used to frequent and found a bound up, dirty stranger in there? Most of us would run out of there screaming, immediately calling the police. The protagonist of Inheritance does the first part of that, but instead of calling the coppers, returns to the bunker with some food and a whole load of questions for the strange, scruffy man. You know, as you do.
And that right there is where this film’s fundamental problem lies. It’s so full of characters making very stupid and illogical choices, it becomes hard to root for them or even care where they end up once the credits are ready to roll. Lily Collins plays Lauren Monroe, a fancy District Attorney and the daughter of a wealthy businessman and the sister of a congressman battling his own scandals. Lauren is a tough cookie, a fiercely independent career woman who could potentially lose it all if her father’s seemingly endless, horrifying secrets are exposed.
The film begins with a chaotic prologue where Lauren finds out her dad has died in the middle of being grilled by the press. The scene is edited together with other bits from Lauren’s life as well as her dad stumbling to a car, eventually crashing it and dying. It’s fast and messy, but the problem is that none of it adds up to anything but our confusion, which will inevitably keep increasing as the film progresses towards its weirdly unsatisfying finale. There simply isn’t enough meaning behind the montage.
Collins, while a very talented actress, feels thoroughly miscast here. She can’t quite sell Lauren’s toughness as an attractive trait, but paints her as a cold and ultimately insecure woman. Simon Pegg, playing the mysterious captive, turns in a wonderfully weird and dedicated performance and seems to be the only one clued in on the film’s ridiculous premise. He plays the man, who we learn is Morgan Warner, with tremendous amount of fun and occasionally bringing some much needed menace to film.
If only director Vaughn Stein and the rest of the cast would realise how utterly strange film Inheritance is. This could have easily been a fabulous, 90s -inspired, campy thriller, but the end result is narratively messy and tonally incoherent. Stein lacks style to make it memorable and the visuals never seem to communicate anything further than plot points; there’s no deeper meaning to be found here, everything is exactly as Stein presents it which makes for a shallow watch.
While Pegg and Collins ultimately find an fascinating dynamic and the scenes in the bunker are the film’s best, it’s simply not enough to make it interesting. The stakes are never established as high enough and let’s face it, it’s a tough sell to ask us to care about the wealthy losing their money or reputation for the genuine evils they have done. It’s unclear why Stein and writer Matthew Kennedy assume we would be on Lauren’s side just because she is a District Attonery, seemingly with a heart of gold, but also a pocket full of money. The film has you believe Lauren is somehow less well off because her father only leaves her one million dollars instead of the 50 million her brother receives. Talk about reading the room in this economy.
It’s a shame the film can never overcome the awkward, thin script and lack of style because there’s still plenty of potential here. It’s just about worth your time thanks to the impeccable and always watchable Pegg, but overall, Inheritance feels like a chore to get through and with very little reward at the end.
Inheritance is on all digital platforms from July 6th and released on DVD July 13th