It’s often so difficult to maintain a pioneering spirit when sifting through the glut of horror films that can clog the arteries of Netflix, Redbox, or whatever go-to source used for finding films.
Oftentimes, adventurous horror-hungry trailblazers will set out to view a lesser-known genre film, only to turn around halfway through the journey, covered with cuts and stings from their misguided travels.
But every now and then, those smaller horror paths can lead to some fairly remarkable vistas, which is the case for the 2015 chiller The Inhabitants from the writing/directing siblings Shawn and Michael Rasmussen.
The two were responsible for penning the underseen 2010 John Carpenter film The Ward and it's fairly easy to see why the legendary director and the Rasmussen brothers clicked. As they have proven once again with The Inhabitants, there is no school like the old school in terms of horror.
In a year when It Follows seemed to garner all the “new horror kid on the block” worship for its retro feel (much of it was way overpraised, in this writer’s opinion), it would be a shame if The Inhabitants didn’t get a glimmer of this acclaim for its adherence to effectively handling time-honored haunted house fundamentals.
Written & Directed by
Michael Rasmussen & Shawn Rasmussen
Elise Couture, Michael Reed, India Pearl
13 October 2015
Rob's Grade: A-
Jessica (played by Elise Couture) and Dan (played by Michael Reed) are a young couple who plunk down some cash for a rustic New England bed and breakfast. Of course, when we are introduced to the original owner, the elderly Rose (played by Judith Chaffee), we know all will not go well. Rose may as well be wearing a name tag that reads: “Hello! My Name is: Get the Hell Out Now While You Can!!!!”
Yup, the old lady whispers some vaguely sinister warnings to the couple, thus setting the stage for some rather unsettling moments within the Inn. When Dan leaves on a brief business trip, Jessica begins to glimpse some of her new home’s unsavory past. This leaves her in an altered state when he returns, and Dan scrambles to find the root of her sudden personality shift, uncovering that it is more than just moodiness.
And speaking of mood, The Inhabitants has it to spare. It’s a measured film, taking time to establish its characters. And both Reed and Couture go to great lengths to have us invest in their well-being. They are the key to this haunted inn tale, giving us a reason to root for their safety.
The other notable quality of The Inhabitants is in its score and its sound design. There was obviously much attention to detail in the subtle creaks, the squawking crows, and the orchestrated bursts of sound with the jump scares. It all works well in mounting an overall sense of dread and panic as we delve deeper into the inn’s past and fear for our leads’ future.
It does not provide any unexpected turns with its material, and that is just fine. There is certainly nothing wrong with on oft-told tale if it is a tale well told. And with The Inhabitants the Rasmussen sibs demonstrate once again that they have the ability to put a fresh polish on a familiar formula.