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THE INHABITANT (2022) Review

Jordan-Luke reviews THE INHABITANT, the film comes to digital platforms in the UK from August 14, 2023.



The Inhabitant (Lionsgate)

Following its limited theatrical run in the US in October 2022, Jerren Lauder’s The Inhabitant comes to Digital Download in the UK from 14th August.


Like any other teenage girl, Tara is just surviving high school — yet her father and mother seem strangely distant. Amidst a nearby spree of gruesome axe murders, Tara has sightings of terrifying entities, forcing her to question her own sanity and shocking ancestry.


The Lizzie Borden-inspired film fuses horror, thrills and mystery into an enthralling narrative, courtesy of Emmy award-winning writer Kevin Bachar. Whilst not every aspect of the film works and some plot points are fairly easily predicted, the film also contains a number of twists and turns that are sure to intrigue and will have you wanting more.

Director Jerren Lauder brings a certain flair and personality to his debut feature with a number of idiosyncratic stylistic choices. For instance, cinematographer Brian Sowell utilises contrasting camera operation to create peaks and troughs in characters’ mental states, switching between stationary or mounted cameras to moments of handheld POV or extreme close-up sequences. Another recurring motif throughout the film is to utilise lingering shots of both landscapes and characters, which helps to develop the sense of unease and enhances the narrative themes of legacy and heritage. This uncomfortable quality is further enhanced by the film’s unorthodox editing and sound mixing, with frequent abrupt cuts in visuals and sound. Onscreen actions like turning off a light switch often result in the instant and unsettling stripping of the musical score.

The sound design at large is visceral, whether it be the sharpening of an axe or the inner whispers of a character’s deteriorating mind. Here, the film has a well-developed yet sensitive approach to mental health and its impacts on people and those around them. 

The writing from Bachar and the direction from Lauder help to create a tangible teenage experience for its protagonists, wherein their actions, mannerisms and dialogue feel real and believable. As a result, it is easy to feel invested in the ongoing events and to sympathise with the characters. This is naturally aided by some phenomenal performances from two up-and-coming horror stars. Central character Tara is played by Odessa A’zion of the recent Hellraiser reboot and Ghosts fame, whilst her close friend Suzy is portrayed by Lizze Broadway from Ghosted and the forthcoming The Boys spin-off, Gen V.

The screenplay and performances are also loaded with some genuinely amusing moments too, with Jackson Dean Vincent who plays Tara’s younger brother Caleb responsible for a large number of these. Meanwhile, Tara’s parents are played by the more veteran actors Leslie Bibb (Iron Man franchise) and Dermot Mulroney (Scream VI, Young Guns), both of whom appear to be having a lot of fun in their respective roles.


Despite a few flaws and narrative confusions, The Inhabitant largely manages to break free from convention when it comes to style and substance, providing a fresh take on the genre at large and the specific story of Lizzie Borden. An intense and engaging thriller, brimming with suspense of both madness and mystery, the film is well worth checking out for horror aficionados when it releases on VOD on 14th August 2023.


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