The Inhabitants (2015) Film Review: A Refreshing Take on Some Stale Genres

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Written and directed by Michael and Shawn Rasmussen, screenwriters of John Carpenter’s The Ward and produced by international bestselling author Glenn Cooper, The Inhabitants is a haunting ghost story involving a young couple that gets more than they bargained for when they renovate a neglected bed and breakfast in New England. After a series of disturbing events, the husband begins to suspect that something evil is lurking within the walls of this old house, and whatever it is has set its sights on his wife. Now he must fight to uncover the inn’s dark secret before this malicious spirit consumes everything he loves.

The Inhabitants was filmed inside one of the oldest houses in New England and home to the Salem Witch Trial children. The Noyes-Parris House (c. 1669) was owned by the infamous Rev. Samuel Parris who was the father of Betty Parris and uncle to Abigail Williams, the two girls who made the initial accusations that led to the tragic witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts.

This is an interesting film that mixes many elements of popular contemporary horror films with the classics. It is part haunted house, part possession, with plenty of witchcraft thrown in for good measure. The plot involves elements of The Innkeepers and The Conjuring. Stylistically it creates the claustrophobic tone of films like The Strangers, while adding a voyeuristic element through camera sequences reminiscent of Paranormal Activity.

As a viewer of all things horror, I have fun with films that fall into these genres. While none of them are necessarily my favorites, they all tend to teach me life lessons. These life lessons are further portrayed through the story of The Inhabitants. These types of films always remind me that I should think twice before buying a house, especially if it is my dream house. It also reminds me that I should never live or work in a bed and breakfast or inn of any sort. In addition to these rules, the biggest lesson of all is definitely portrayed in this film. That lesson reminds me that I need to steer clear of the entire northeastern part of this country. Basically, if I am planning on moving or traveling anywhere near the location of The Salem Witch Trials, I need to rethink that decision.

In moving on to the film, the viewer needs to know that it does start a little slow. This is for good reason, however, and probably something that only stood out to me because I’ve been watching tons of no holds barred splatter films lately. So while the pace of this film may be slow for some readers of this site, it is necessary for this type of movie. It needs to build suspense through an expository storyline that adds to the historical context around the film. It is the historical context, after all, that is the reason this story exists.

Aside from a slow start this is also the type of film that needs to provide characterization, eerie camera work, and jump scares. So while I am not a huge fan of the cliché ghost story jump scares in this movie, I did appreciate watching a film that had some good writing. With that being said, it is probably pretty obvious that these aren’t always “go to” films for me. They are fun, however, when I’m in the mood for them.

As this film moves forward, the strange events, murders, and crazy people running around do begin to build the viewer’s interest. I found myself getting more and more interested in the film as it progressed. I also found myself very impressed by the lead actress and really wanted to know everything about her affliction. Caring about the characters in films like these tends to be a rare occurrence for me. So I was pleasantly surprised when the pacing of the film brought me to a point where I truly cared for the characters and the story. So while this really isn’t my favorite genre, it is an example of the genre that I would actually purchase. If you are a collector and you are a fan of any of the films mentioned in this review, you will probably have a great time with this one. You will be able to stream it over many services starting next week, so stay on the lookout.

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