• 01 Aug - 07 Aug, 2020
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Reviews

As we all know from watching TV and movies, the super-rich are different from you and me. The endless pursuit and maintenance of wealth, status and power isn't your usual 9-to-5, and along the way it's not unusual to accrue one or two skeletons in the closet – or, in the case of the Monroe family in the would-be thriller Inheritance, a prisoner in the dungeon.

Said captive is played by Simon Pegg with a creepy inscrutability that's the most interesting thing about the movie. Essentially a two-hander, the drama pits Pegg's Morgan Warner against Lily Collins' Lauren Monroe, scion of a New York dynasty and the horrified inheritor of her father's nasty little underground secret. The monster/victim and princess/rescuer are surrounded by stick figures in this thinly conceived takedown of the ultra-capitalist set.

Inheritance contains the kernel of an involving sins-of-the-father saga. Lauren’s a shockingly young and comically tough-talking district attorney, involved in the high-profile prosecution of a Madoff-type Wall Streeter when her banker father (Patrick Warburton) dies unexpectedly. The patriarch leaves oodles to Lauren's congressman brother, William (Chace Crawford), who's in the midst of a reelection campaign shrouded in accusations of corruption, and to her mother (Connie Nielsen), whose only concern is that William win the race.

Lauren receives a paltry million, but there's the bonus prize of a manila envelope, handed to her privately by the family's lawyer, Harold (Michael Beach). The contents: a thumb-drive video offering vague instructions concerning a secret that "must stay buried," and a key to a subterranean chamber in the woods behind the Monroe mansion – in other words, a bizarro curse and a punishment, especially when you factor in the chained man who's spent the past 30 years in that windowless space.

With elegant contributions from DP Michael Merriman and composer Marlon E. Espino, Stein has put together a polished, if dramatically bland, package. The Alabama locations (with a few establishing shots of New York) offer a generic opulence that deepens the disconnect between the world of high-level movers and shakers that Inheritance pretends to inhabit and the unconvincing one where it actually unfolds. The idea of a literal crypt of living family secrets has a movie-ready, over-the-top absurdity, but in this smoothed-over telling, there's no dramatic juice, no impact – just pieces on a chess board, waiting to be maneuvered.

– Compilation