Saturday, 19 December 2015

THE INHABITANTS - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Beantown-Based Bros Deliver New Goods

Elise Couture in the shower!!!
The Inhabitants
Michael Rasmussen,
Shawn Rasmussen
Elise Couture,
Michael Reed,
India Pearl,
Judith Chaffee,
Rebecca Whitehouse

Review By
Greg Klymkiw

What's not to like about the Rasmussens? Those sicko siblings from Beantown wrote an ideal screenplay for John Carpenter (The Ward) and loaded it with babes in an asylum. Their directorial debut, Dark Feed, had a zero-budget movie crew shooting a horror movie (with babes, 'natch) on location in an abandoned asylum.

Now they've concocted a whole new delight.

With The Inhabitants, the Rasmussen Brothers drag you into a labyrinth of utter terror in this creepy, atmospheric haunted house thriller in the tradition of classic horror cinéma from masters like Robert Wise (The Haunting), Jack Clayton (The Innocents) and Val Lewton (uh, all of them, but notably The Curse of The Cat People and I Walked With a Zombie). There are even of dollops of homage to Dan Curtis (Burnt Offerings), John Hancock (Let's Scare Jessica To Death) and Peter Medak (famed Canuck horror classic The Changeling). Make no mistake, though, this is no geek tribute mash-up. Though the inspirations are clear, the boys have generated a rip-snorter which works in its own horrific ways in a contemporary context.

What's in there? Implements, perhaps?

In spite of its ultra-low budget pedigree, the picture looks terrific, especially since it was shot on location in the historic (and creepy) 1699 New England domicile, The Noyes-Parris House. It was owned by the (in)famous whack-job Rev. Samuel Parris, daddy-kins of Betty Parris and uncle to Abigail Williams, the two bratty sicko gals who made the accusations that led to the Salem Witch Trials.


These Rasmussen Beaux are mighty ingenious. They know how to stretch a buck so it doesn't look like a buck and on top of that, with their two first features, they managed to secure locations and use them well - locations that many low budget filmmakers would never know how to sniff out (and even if they did, they'd find excuses not to use them, or worse, use them improperly).

The Inhabitants begins with a nice slow burn. There are few rocky moments in this expositional portion of the film (mostly involving a slightly wooden performance from one of the supporting players), but at least these moments are bracketed by an eerie credit sequence and one excellent super-creepy performance by Judith Chaffee as a dementia-addled old woman. Once the movie blasts off, and this doesn't take long, you pretty much perch yourself on the edge of your seat and stay there.

One can never get enough of Elise Couture in the shower.

The Coffeys, Jessica (Elise Couture) and Dan (Michael Reed), are a young couple on the verge of making their dream come true. Dan has a well paying job which occasionally calls him to the big city and his hot wifey has always wanted to run a bed and breakfast - a perfect scenario for them to start a family. Whilst getting a tour of an old New England home already outfitted as such, they have, alas, no idea what they're going to be up against.

Its former owner, Aunt Rose (the aforementioned Chaffee) is about to be shoved into an assisted-living asylum by her babe-o-licious real estate saleslady niece (Rebecca Whitehouse). It seems Rose ran the place for decades with her late hubby, but since his death, she's pretty much fallen to pieces. Even as Jessica and Dan view the property, Rose glowers at them with a combination of fear and malevolence.

The entire house is outfitted with a combination of extremely old (antique) and relatively new furnishings. When asking about this cornucopia of chattels, the niece innocently declares that "the furniture belongs to the house". Little does she, nor its new owners know, that plenty more belongs to the house.

Our sexy couple (he's a handsome, well-hung hunk and she's one fetching straight-haired-brunette drink o' water with a bod fit for a girl-next-door Playboy model) are plenty happy with the place, but even they're scratching their noggins over Aunt Rose's parting words to them:

"Take care of the children."


Turns out old, batty Rose and her departed hubby (hilariously named Norman) never had kiddies. Curiously, Lydia (India Pearl), the wife of the original owner of the "March Carriage House" from some 350 years back was, like doddering Aunt Rose, a barren woman. No matter, the long-departed Lydia faithfully served as a midwife to the earliest colonists, bringing many little ones into the world. (This explains the creepy "birthing chair" with straps and faded blood stains our couple find in the basement along with a set of grim-looking implements which seem better employed at an abattoir.)

Lydia, of course, was eventually hung as a witch. Soon after, many of the community's children went missing and were occasionally spotted wandering in the woods as if Lydia was beckoning to them. (Hint-Hint: Lydia has already been attached in this review to an actress. Figure it out, eh.)

Once the insanely attractive Coffey couple has settled into the joint, we soon get a crap-inducing scary sequence where nutty Aunt Rose makes an unexpected appearance in the middle of the night. Later on, Aunt Rose makes another appearance where she bares her bloodied, pus-ridden chest and utters:

"The children need to be fed."

TO HAVE BABES (for the fellas) &
WELL-HUNG HUNKS (for the ladies).

Clearly, none of this bodes well.

The Inhabitants, though hardly the most original ghost story in the world (though it gets points for the witch background and the clearly butcher-like midwifery), is an extremely effective one and its final two thirds emit plenty of shudders, shocks and, you guessed it, bloodletting.

Throughout, there are the requisite bumps and creaks in the night, plenty of shadows moving about, several chill-inducing Ghost-Cam POVs, some superb bathtub-shower shenanigans, one especially hot sex scene (mediated via a perspective best experienced when you see the movie) and eventually some heart-stopping appearances of shit nobody wants to see anytime, anywhere - especially not in a creepy old house with way too many secret nooks and crannies full of all sorts of grotesqueries.

Don't fall to the floor with THIS coming your way.

On their own, Jessica and Dan respectively discover some really freaky secrets which affect them, predictably, but realistically within the context of the story, in terms of their loving marriage turning into something altogether malevolent. (Oh, and not that it gets to the extremes of Lars von Trier, there's even a dollop of scare-inducing gymnastics which place you in shuddery AntiChrist territory.)

Overall, this is a superbly crafted little picture - nicely shot and edited with the kind of skill one demands of any horror film - happily with a minimum of shock cuts, but plenty of shocks nonetheless. The Rasmussen Brothers have served up another nicely crafted genre delight and one that moves them forward as well as signalling even greater things to come.

One of the nice things is that they have unconsciously, I think, infused the movie with the kind of indigenous regional qualities which enhance such low budget indie horror items. It's the cherry on the sundae, so to speak. A nice, blood red cherry at that.


The Inhabitants is distributed by Gravitas Ventures and can be accessed via multiple VOD platforms including iTunes, Amazon Video, Vudu, Google Play, Xbox LIVE, Sony Playstation, various cable providers, and more. Alas, the picture really warranted some manner of big-screen play, but no matter. It's out there and available.