Review: Familial Drama Unravels The Mind In INHERITANCE

It’s not often that I see a film and instantly recognize the familiar, scenic, coastal setting of the area surrounding my hometown, nestled in the central coast of California, but that’s exactly what happened when I sat down to watch Tyler Savage’s Inheritance. I was thrilled to see the familiar piers jutting into the ocean and the sleepy, coastal towns I grew up romping around. There’s even a line in the film that mentions my hometown of Santa Maria by name and I couldn’t help but feel my heart skip a beat. So, it’s fair to say that I had a bit of an unfair bias from the start and was very much looking forward to seeing how Savage utilized the towns of my youth in his debut feature.

Inheritance tells the story of a young man named Ryan (Chase Joliet) who receives word that his long estranged biological father has died and left him an inheritance in the form of a beachfront estate located on the central coast of California. Ryan and his newly pregnant fiancé, Isi (Sara Montez), make their way to the beachfront property and are faced with the decision to sell or not to sell for what would be a generous sum that would provide a more than sufficient nest egg for the new family. Once they arrive, the truth begins to surface about Ryan’s father and the land the property is built upon. We learn the land once belonged to the native people and it, of course, was not taken without a fight; a familiar history to Americans (or at least the ones who aren’t still in denial). As secrets begin unraveling, so does Ryan’s mind. Isi’s patience level begins to wane as she feels more and more like Ryan is growing distant and detached from their relationship and the oncoming change of having a child.

The familial drama that ensues is perfectly portrayed by Joliet and Montez, who both give stellar performances as a young couple turned soon-to-be parents. The film itself is beautifully captured by cinematographer Drew Daniels (It Comes At Night, Krisha), who I’m proud to say does my homeland justice, and the score ties it altogether with very fitting original tracks by the band Mini Mansions. Aesthetically, the film is gorgeous and eye catching, featuring some nearly perfectly symmetrical shots and the same kind of crispness I found in It Comes At Night. From the beautiful setting, cinematography, and score, to the honest and raw performances, Inheritance is definitely my cup of tea.

Between the aesthetic and the familiar locale, I was already all in, but there’s one more thing that really sealed the deal for me: the talk of the seemingly haunted land that was ripped away from the natives who once inhabited it. I remember hearing stories growing up about haunted native land, friends houses that were built on “Indian burial grounds”, the families who lived inside frequently reporting strange goings on. Of course, legend has it that this is all due to the massive bloodshed as a result of our ancestral settlers unfairly taking the land from those who lived there first (and honestly, we deserve it). It’s wonderfully thrilling to see the tip of the iceberg when it comes to these types of stories being told and I’d be happy with a few more films to elaborate more so on that dark part of our history.

Coincidentally, I watched Inheritance just couple of hours before I had tickets to see the long awaited and incredibly hyped Hereditary. It was completely unintentional, but the two made for a perfect double feature. I truly don’t think I’ll ever get tired of deeply twisted stories of family and relationships, because there is where some of the truest horror lies.

Inheritance will be available on VOD on June 15.