Saturday, August 18, 2018

Scary Movies XI: The Inhabitant

It turns out the dude who broke into the serial killer’s home in Bad Samaritan got off easy. David Tennant was just a flesh-and-blood psychopath. In contrast, three sisters who break into a corrupt senator’s mansion are in for a world of demonic hurt. Crime truly does not pay in Guillermo Amoedo’s The Inhabitant (trailer here), which screens during the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s annual Scary Movies series.

The oldest sister, Camila, is an ex-con who owes the wrong people money, so when they tell her to break into Sen. Sanchez-Lermontov’s’s safe, she really does not have any choice in the matter. Her two younger sisters, Maria and Ana have come along to help. Unfortunately, instead of cash in the safe, they find the couple’s emaciated daughter Tamara chained up in the basement. Of course, once Camila releases her from her cell, very bad things start to happen. Yep, you got it.

Amoedo takes his time setting the scene and establishing his characters, but when he finally unleashes the satanic horror, it turns out to be some intense, prolonged, and over-powering stuff. This film will scare Whole Foods-shopping Unitarians back to the Catholic Church. Yes indeed, there is veteran demon-exorcising cardinal expected shortly, but the circumstances will be even more complicated than he expected.

Maria Evoli is solid as the larcenous sister most likely to be the “final girl,” but she is overshadowed by the gravitas of Fernando Becerril’s old school Cardinal Natale and Natasha Cubria, who is truly harrowing and terrifying as the possessed but occasionally lucid Tamara. Production designer Xènia Besora’s team also does a first-class job crafting and dressing the Sanchez-Lermontov villa. It is obviously an opulent home, but the bric-a-brac just looks like it radiates evil.

So, that “thou shalt not steal” business is no joke. Anyone who has a few satanic panic movies under their belt will anticipate the twist ending from the clear foreshadowing throughout the film. However, there are several extended sequences involving faith and temptation that are remarkably potent. This is a scary film that really hits viewers in the gut and on an archetypal level. Very highly recommended, The Inhabitant screens Monday night (8/20) at the Walter Reade, as part of Scary Movies XI.