THE INHABITANTS. 2015. WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY SHAWN AND MICHAEL RASMUSSEN. STARRING ELISE COUTURE-STONE, MICHAEL REED, JUDITH CHAFFEE, REBECCA WHITEHURST AND INDIA PEARL. PRODUCED BY SHAWN RASMUSSEN, MICHAEL RASMUSSEN, GLENN COOPER, SHANE COOPER, TESSA COOPER, BRIDGET KEEFE AND LINDA WHEADON. ORIGINAL MUSIC SCORE BY JOHN KUSIAK. VISUAL EFFECTS BY MICHAEL RASMUSSEN. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
When my very good friends the Rasmussen brothers asked me to review their latest film THE INHABITANTS, naturally I jumped at the chance to do my very good friends the Rasmussen brothers this little favour. Now, let me check. Did I mention that well-known independent horror film-makers Shawn and Michael Rasmussen are my very good friends? I did? Oh goody. I sure would hate it if I forgot to mention that well-known independent horror film-makers-
Oh, all right then. I’ll come clean. I may have exaggerated just a smidgeon when I said that the lads were my very good friends. Truthfully, they wouldn’t know me if they fell over me on the street, haha. But they did find me online and ask me to review their latest offering in my capacity as horror movie reviewer extraordinaire. That part was as true as true can be.
Also true is the fact that I grabbed at the chance like a rat at a nice mouldy banana peel. After all, they’re the guys who wrote legendary horror director John Carpenter’s ‘comeback’ film, THE WARD (2010). This is a spooky but also extremely clever horror film set in a psychiatric hospital, and it has a twist that’ll knock your socks off. If you’re wearing any, that is. And if you’re not, well, it’s coming into winter now and you might want to consider investing in a few nice thick woolly pairs and bunging ’em on your plates of meat. I’m just saying, is all. Chilblains is nasty things, they is.
Shall we move on to THE INHABITANTS? We most certainly shall, horror fans. It’s a little belter of a scary film set in New England, a part of the world famed for its beauty that I’ve always wanted to visit. The story centres around a young and attractive married couple called Dan and Jessica, who move into the March Carriage House with the intention of making a success of the Bed And Breakfast contained therein. The house actually used in the filming is a fantastic old building with a grim but fascinating history.
Ever heard of a little historical phenomenon called The Salem Witch Trials? Well, just in case you haven’t, back in colonial Massachusetts, in 1692 and 1693 to be precise, unfair accusations of witchcraft were made against a bunch of people- mostly women- and many of these poor folks were put to death as a result.
The house in THE INHABITANTS, known as the Noyes-Parris House, was home to the two girls who kicked off the whole shooting-match with their ‘possessed’ behaviour and subsequent accusations of ‘putting the evil eye on them’ levelled against three women in Salem Village.
A house like that has got to be haunted with history from the foundations to the rafters. Can you imagine the vibes you’d feel the second you walked through the door? It’s the perfect setting from the viewer’s point of view, but it’s not so lucky for Dan and Jessica, its eager new owners…
Straightaway the viewer knows that the house is haunted, and that the woman doing the haunting (yep, it’s a chick…!) appears to be targeting Jessica rather than Dan. I can hardly blame her. Jessica is drop-dead gorgeous and I would totally be gay for her if I weren’t already fully committed to finding the perfect bloke. (No luck so far. Any single guys reading this…?)
It takes Dan a ridiculously long time to work out that there’s something seriously amiss both with his lovely wife and also with his newly-acquired pile of bricks and mortar. Typical guy. His missus is walking around in a zombified trance and the ghost practically does everything but come down to the kitchen to make a cup of tea and a bacon sandwich and he still doesn’t notice anything out of place.
Jeez Louise. Guy has a wife who looks like that, you’d think he’d notice when she so much as took a whizz. But no, guys in movies don’t notice s**t until it’s too late, heh-heh-heh… Was that a spoiler? Ooopsies. Here’s another one, more cryptic this time. Check out Aunt Rose’s boobs…!
Anyway, just who is the apparition haunting the deliciously creepy March Carriage House? Who is the spectre who’s coming between Dan and Jessica and screwing up not only their marriage but also their plans to run a successful guest-house? That Bed And Breakfast could’ve been a nice little earner, it could’ve…!
Could it possibly be Lydia March, the midwife and wet-nurse (booby-feeder…!) who lived in the house in the dark colonial days we spoke about earlier and who was hanged for witchcraft after a bunch of kids in the village came down with a mysterious illness? Well, it’s more likely to be Lydia than it is to be Casper the Friendly Ghost or crooked estate agents like in SCOOBY DOO, I’ll tell you that for nothing.
But what does she want from Dan and Jessica, and will they walk away from the experience unscathed or will moving into the March Carriage House turn out to be the worst decision they’ve ever made in their lives…? You’ll have to watch the film to find out.
There are some gorgeous shots of the house wreathed in fog during the day and shrouded in darkness at night and the creepy music score is excellent. There’s a terrifically spooky atmosphere throughout the movie which really helps to keep the tension levels up. It helps that the house is just made for this kind of film. It has creepy secret passages, creepy crawl-spaces, creepy hidden rooms, creepy storage rooms filled with creepy old junk dating back to the days of the Salem Witch Trials, the works!
There’s even an old birthing-chair in one of the junk-rooms, still with blood on it from when it was last used. How grim is that? Dan and Jessica don’t seem to recognise this macabre piece of equipment for what it is, but having twice pushed a good-sized child out of my nether regions I copped on to its purpose immediately myself.
Speaking of pushing things out of one’s vagina, one of my favourite scenes is when Dan goes to the Witch Museum in the village (I want to go there!!!) and looks dubiously upon the fantastic collection of old birthing instruments they have on display there.
In particular, they have the blood-letting lancet, they have the blunt hook and they even have the scarificator. The scarificator…! Imagine that! They actually found a way to make squeezing a big lump of mini-humankind out of your lady-parts sound worse. It’s like the dentist in THE SIMPSONS using ‘the poker, the scraper and this happy little fellow is the gouger…!’ to fix up little Lisa Simpson’s gnashers.
I thought long and hard about how to finish this review. In the end, it was a toss-up between yet another reference from THE SIMPSONS and implying that the Rasmussen brothers were paying me to give their film an excellent review. Well, firstly I can assure you that every compliment I’ve paid the film is true because THE INHABITANTS is the best new horror film I’ve seen in the last couple of years. It does my favourite kind of people-moving-into-a-new-home-discover-it’s-actually-haunted-as-f**k film all the justice in the world. And secondly… I accuse Goody Flanders! I’ll have that fiver now, lads…
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.
Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.
She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at:
1) ‘… BY A WOMAN WALKING HER DOG…’
2) A WRITER’S JOURNEY
3) ANNA MEETS COUNT DRACULA
4) ANOTHER FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR…
5) CANCER BALLS
6) CATCH OF THE DAY
7) FIFTY FILTHY-DIRTY SEX-POEMS YOU MUST READ BEFORE I DIE.
8) FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR…
9) THE DEVIANTS
10) VISITING DAY