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Inheritance Poster
American Dreamer - INDEPENDENT FILM CRITIC - October 2002
Marvelous things happen when filmmakers decide to skip the traditional Hollywood production route and keep the cinematic storytelling in their own hands. Seattle director Kris Kristensen, with co-writer/co-producer Brian McDonald, did just that--the result being a gem of a film called INHERITANCE.
Part Hitchcockian psychological thriller, part fiendish ROSEMARY'S BABY, INHERITANCE is the story of Abbey (Jen Taylor), an ambitious yet caring young woman whose every happiness is about to be realized in the form of a promising midwifery career and an impending marriage to her fiance, Neil (Carter Roy). Yet Abbey's day job is serving as caretaker to Mrs. Baker (Marjorie Nelson), a selfish and headstrong octogenarian whose death is imminent and whose reluctance to actually relinquish her spot on this mortal coil proves disastrous for Abbey's future plans and dreams. Following Mrs. Baker's death, Abbey learns that not only has she inherited Mrs. Baker's lavish home, she's also inherited, well, Mrs. Baker.
Abbey is literally possessed by the recently deceased Mrs. Baker, a fact which wrecks havoc with her personal life, her relationship with Neil, her career ambitions and her very sanity. As Abbey tries to expel the resilient Mrs. Baker from her body, it is unclear whether or not her efforts are an exercise in futility, as the battle for control seesaws with the ultimate upshot being...something different from the Hollywood norm. Like THE SIXTH SENSE, it would be severely disappointing to reveal the ending before actually viewing the film.
Kristensen's feature directorial debut is very effecting. INHERITANCE boasts a highly competent cast and a seamless combination of cinematography, editing and soundtrack. Seattle viewers will relish the hometown references, while everyone else will just be pleased to note that not every story revolves around Southern California.
The on-screen chemistry between Taylor and Roy results in an effective, genuine relationship just thrown the mother of all monkey wrenches. Likewise, Nelson's Mrs. Baker is an eerie, sinister presence. Even her moments of niceness are evil in their subtext. The cast, as a whole, comes together well to tell a thoroughly wicked tale.
On a shoestring budget, Kristensen and his team manage to do what millions of dollars only rarely do in Hollywood: Provide a straightforward, compelling narrative that entertains an audience for the full $8.50 ticket price value.