The Inhabitants


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

The Inhabitants
"Couture and Reed have natural chemistry and it's refreshing to see characters in a story like this who aren't at each other's throats."

Back when Wes Craven's Scream had a character outline the rules for surviving a horror movie, there was one major omission: you can never move house. Throughout the history of the genre it has been a bad idea, but it's been getting worse in recent years, with so many problem properties that one can imagine an embittered estate agent lurking somewhere behind the scenes, handing out funding. That said, if you're going to buy not just a house but an inn - and an inn in New England witch country, no less - then you're probably asking for it.

Jessica (Elise Couture) doesn't think so; she just wants to fulfill her dream of fixing up and running a little bed and breakfast place somewhere with historical interest. Partner Dan (Michael Reed) is keen to support her, though work will sometimes take him away. Dog Wiley (played by Bailey, sadly now deceased) is somewhat less impressed, suspicious about the place from the moment they arrive. It's as if she thinks somebody else is there. But nobody ever listens to the dog.

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With a set-up like this, you might think you can predict everything that's coming, but although parts of the film stick closely to formula it also has a few surprises in store. Daytime is no less threatening than night as the house begins to share its secrets, and neither does there seem to be any easy prospect of escape beyond it, at least not on foot, as local youths provide a threatening presence, skulking in the nearby woods. Mysterious warnings about children add to Jessica's unease when Dan departs on a business trip, but it's what he finds when he gets back that sees the story shift gears.

Couture and Reed have natural chemistry and it's refreshing to see characters in a story like this who aren't at each other's throats; the fact that they can be reasonable and understanding and still find themselves in peril gives that peril a little more weight. Although the sense of threat gives way to more mundane violence towards the end, there are moments along the way that are disturbing on more than one level, and the more so because the details of the witchery associated with the house are not spelled out too directly. The Rasmussen brothers are strongest at bringing us back to the ordinariness of the situation when the supernatural is out of sight. There are some effective directorial touches which make mundane objects abruptly disconcerting, and a handful of cleverly framed shots which will probably bypass most viewers altogether.

The Inhabitants never quite succeeds in fully exploiting the potential of its central idea, but it's an interesting addition to the genre nonetheless, and a great lesson in what it's possible to achieve with a single atmospheric location and a committed cast.

Reviewed on: 07 Oct 2015
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A young couple buy a boarding house in New England only to find things going bump in the night.

Director: Michael Rasmussen, Shawn Rasmussen

Writer: Michael Rasmussen, Shawn Rasmussen

Starring: Elise Couture, Michael Reed, India Pearl, Bailey

Year: 2015

Runtime: 90 minutes

Country: US


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