The Inheritance

Such is the case with the debut from writer/director Robert O’Hara, which could be called a slavery slasher. That’s new.

Taking the classic Agatha Christie setup of everyone invited to quite a spread arriving at the same time, “The Inheritance” gathers five African-American relatives and their respective partners for a family reunion in the snow. Complains one: “They couldn’t do this shit in Puerto Rico?”

There’s also a token clueless white couple — nice to see for a change, and, yes, they’re the first to go, perhaps atoning for decades of racial inequality in horror cinema — clueless and unrelated, who wonders the same thing: “What kind of black family holds a reunion in the middle of winter? Are they going to barbecue?”

Among the young men and women assembled are a chef, a writer, a fighter, a programmer and a doctor — roles filled by the likes of D.B. Woodside (TV’s “24”) and the striking Rochelle Aytes (“Trick ’r Treat”). The next morning after arrival, their elders show up, led by Uncle Melvin (the great Keith David), who spins a story about their ancestor Chakabazz, the hanged slave who rose from the dead.

But young people these days — they don’t listen. They don’t respect things like bloodlines and traditions. And for that greed, gluttony, selfishness and all that reefer-smoking, they must pay.

And so does the audience. It’s ironic that the opening half is so promising, because it’s arguably the picture’s most conventional. The second falters, bogging down in supernatural mumbo-jumbo which even the bloody thrills can’t resuscitate. O’Hara’s film remains visually slick, even when it’s unimaginative.

I didn’t hate it, but it wastes a good cast and a better opportunity. And about that cast: Don’t assume the film is exclusionary because they don’t look like you. —Rod Lott

Rod Lott

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