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FrightFest 2023 Review ‘THE INHABITANT’: A Profoundly Grounded and Enigmatic Shocker

Synopsis: After discovering she is a descendant of the notorious axe murderer, Lizzie Borden, Tara is tormented by violent visions. As her nightmares start bleeding over into real life, she must confront her deepest fears and unravel the century old Borden family curse.

We get so many new horror films these days it’s often difficult not to go into them with a slightly pessimistic attitude that it will be another run-of-the-mill, predictable horror film. But, to my surprise, I was pleasantly thrilled with The Inhabitant.

Initially attracted to the film because Dermot Mulroney stars in it (and we’ve been a fan of Dermot since Copycat (1995)), the star of The Inhabitant is however most definitely Odessa A’Zion who plays our protagonist Tara, a sweary teen hipster with a set of very cool t-shirts, who just happens to also be a descendant of the infamous Lizzie Borden. She’s likeable immediately.  Tara’s mum is played by Leslie Bibb so there’s already some star power on play here for a small budget horror film. The family dynamic feels very real (along with Tara’s little brother, Caleb (Jackson Dean Vincent), and their family chemistry is great to watch.

The Inhabitant is highly atmospheric in its set up and it’s a very well paced horror film, with underlying secrets and tensions clear from the start, but with the added benefit of centering around a well-known tale with the Lizzie Borden story. Some of the screenplay is very profound, Tara’s father giving highly relatable relationship advice to her very early on, and there’s a real sense of connection between the family members. But there are clearly also secrets, and we want to know what those secrets are.

It’s a shame that the final twist errs on ruining some of the set-up, as it does become fairly predictable during its third act. The final reveal is a little predictable, but horror films can often struggle to come to a sensical conclusion in their third act. However, The Inhabitant works very well overall, mainly due to its sophisticated cast playing characters who behave quite realistically for a horror film.

The director, Jerren Lauder, has upped his content considerably since his debut feature, Stay Out of the Attic (2020) and we’re very much looking forward to seeing what he does next.

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