Brief synopsis: When a wealthy and powerful man dies of a heart attack, he leaves his estranged daughter a strange inheritance and burden. She struggles as she searches for the truth behind the unusual inheritance whilst wanting to protect the family name.
Is it any good?: Inheritance is okay and has an interesting premise. Lily Collins though seems miscast, playing the district attorney, Lauren Monroe, but looking like a schoolgirl playing dress up, even if she is in her thirties in reality. She does manage to mostly overcome her looks with a, for the most part, credible performance.
Simon Pegg is good as the jailed/kidnapped Morgan Warner, mixing elements of Hopkins’ Lecter into his performance. Inheritance holds ones attention, as the story and acting are strong for the majority of its runtime of one hundred and ten minutes. Unfortunately, it falls down a little towards the end with a rushed conclusion and slightly underwhelming ending.
Spoiler territory: Lauren Monroe (Collins) is out for a run. She is remembering being told of her father’s, Archer (Patrick Warburton), death during a press conference. He died of a heart attack whilst driving near their summer house. She is a district attorney and very good at her job.
She has a reputation for fighting for justice and fairness. Her younger brother, William (Chace Crawford), is running for congress. She is asked about rumours of him bribing the unions for votes. She flatly denies them.
After the funeral, the wake is at the summer house. Brother and sister discuss what to do about their mother, Catherine (Connie Nielsen). William says they should get her an apartment so as she can live closer to them.
Lauren goes and looks around her father’s old office. There are no pictures of her only her brother. She remembers him talking to her whilst they played a game of chess, telling her that she had to plan and be successful.
The family lawyer, Harold Thewlis (Michael Beach), reads the will. The bulk of his assets he leaves to his wife, Catherine. William is left twenty million dollars. He leaves fifty million dollars to be divided between charity’s and institutions. He leaves Lauren one million dollars.
Catherine thanks Harold and dismisses him. She leaves, going for a walk. Lauren talks to Harold, thanking him for being there, as she knew that he was close to her father.
Harold tells her that her father did leave something else. It was for her eyes only. He gives her an envelope. In the envelope are a USB stick and a key. On the USB is a short video.
The video is a short message from her father. Something is buried but he never found the courage to tell her. It is near the old fort. She must take the secret of what she finds to her grave.
A somewhat discombobulated Lauren leaves the house and goes walking. Her husband, Scott (Marque Richardson), calls after her, wanting to check she is okay. She tells him she is.
Lauren heads to the old fort. She finds a door in the grounds where she used to play as a child. She has a memory of her father (Josh Murray – young Archer), telling her that part of the grounds was off-limits. The key he left for her opens the door. It is a door to an underground bunker.
Lauren makes her way into the bunker. In the bunker, along a long corridor, she finds a dishevelled man chained up. He is not moving. She touches him and he comes to life, exhaling loudly. A startled Lauren runs out of the bunker and returns to the summer house. She calls the emergency services but ends the call when it connects.
Lauren asks her mother if her father had any enemies who could destroy the family. Catherine tells her she does not have to worry about that. Later, Lauren’s husband takes their daughter, Claire (Mariyah Francis), home. Lauren stays at the summer house with the remaining guest of the wake.
Later, Lauren returns to bunker. She sees the man lying on a bunk and calls to him. Receiving no response and seeing no movement, she takes his fingerprints.
He opens his eyes. Freaked out once again, Lauren tries to hide her face. She runs out of the room. She returns a while later, wearing a mask. The man is standing now.
She asks him who he is. He tells her that his name is John Doe. He wants to know where Archer is. He also tells her he knows who she is and all about her so there is no need for her to wear a mask.
Lauren removes the mask. She still wants to know why he is there. He gives her a list of foods that he is craving. He also wants some cigarettes and a newspaper.
She emails the fingerprints to a detective, Sanchez (Joe Herrera), as tells him she needs to know who they belong to urgently. She gets all of the foods and items bunker Joe has requested. She gets a call from Scott. She lies to him telling him she is about to go into court as she goes to see bunker Joe.
She gives bunker Joe the food and other items and leaves. She calls her legal partner, Eddie (Lucas Alexander Ayoub), to tell him she is running late and he will have to begin the trial without her. She returns to the bunker.
She gives bunker Joe a bar of chocolate. He gets a little emotional and tells her that her father used to give him a square of chocolate once a year and then put the rest of the bar on a shelf out of reach just to taunt him. He tells her his name is Morgan Warner.
Morgan tells her how he met her father when they were both young and how they used to hang out together drinking, gambling and womanising.
He tells her that when driving back to the city from the summer house, Archer ran someone over and killed them. Archer was so worried about losing his career, he buried the body.
Morgan wanted to call the police but Archer knocked him unconscious and put him in the bunker. Lauren asked why did her father not just kill him.
Morgan tells her he enjoyed torturing him. Lauren says her father cannot defend himself, why should she believe him? He tells her that her father had a mistress, Sofia Fiore (Christina DeRosa). He gives Lauren her address.
Lauren leaves and asks Sanchez to check out for a missing person from the eighties; Morgan Warner. Lauren turns up at her court case. In the bunker, Morgan recites the ingredients of Key Lime pie as he exercises.
Lauren goes and meets Sofia. She sees she has a son; Archer’s son, her half-brother. Sofia tells her that he does not know that she exist or that he is connected to the Monroe family.
Lauren goes to see Harold. She wants to know why he never told them about Sofia. He tells her he was her father’s lawyer. Lauren wants to know if her father has any other skeletons.
He tells her that there is not anything she has to worry about. She asks him about Morgan Warner. Harold does not know the name.
Lauren goes to see her mother. She asks her about Morgan Warner. Her mother does not know the name. William asks Lauren to help his campaign, to show her face. She agrees to help him. She asks him if he knows anything about bribing the unions. He says he did not. She returns to the bunker to talk with Morgan.
Morgan tells her he knows everything about her father’s life. He would talk to him about everything. Lauren asks about the body. Morgan tells her to dig it up.
He says he will show her where the body is buried. Lauren has reservations but her curiosity gets the better of her. She takes the chain collar off of him.
Gun in hand, she gets him to take her to the burial site. A worried Scott calls her. He has not heard from her all day. She apologises. Morgan takes her to the burial site. She digs and finds the skeleton of the body. A panicked Lauren covers the skeleton back up and takes Morgan back to the bunker.
She forces him to put the collar back on. Morgan says that if she lets him go, he will disappear and not harm her family. She goes back to the summer house and wrestles with the conundrum of what to do about Morgan.
She goes home to her family. The next day, she heads to court. Listening to the radio on the drive, allegations of her brother bribing the unions are still being made.
In court, Lauren notices a company name that she recognises. She realises that the case she is fighting a conflict of interest. She goes to see Harold. He tells her to stop asking questions. She goes to see her brother. She asks if he would pay someone to protect the family. He tells her he would do whatever it takes to protect the family.
Lauren returns to Morgan. She wants to know how she can be sure that he will disappear. He tells her that he only wants to be free. He gives her his word. She tells him to clean up. She plans to release him that night.
She tells Harold to set up a Caymans account and transfer the inheritance money into it. She also wants one hundred thousand dollars in cash.
She returns to the bunker. He tells her that William took campaign bribes. She does not believe him. Morgan tells to ask about Jeffrey Shultz. She goes to see her brother and realises that he did bribe the unions.
She wants to know why he did not tell her. William explains that he could not tell her because of her position. He also intimates that it was their father’s same shady dealings that got her the position of district attorney.
She returns to the bunker and picks up Morgan. She takes him to an airstrip and they meet Harold. Harold gives him a suitcase of money and an envelope with a new identity. Lauren warns him that if he ever returns, or speak up, she will bury him. Morgan gets on the plane.
Lauren returns to the bunker and begins to clean it up. Sanchez finds Morgan Warner’s details. He leaves a message on Lauren’s phone, telling her he is sending the information to the house.
Catherine arrives at the summer house to see her daughter. She sees the files that Sanchez sent.
She wants to know why she has pictures of Carson. Lauren tells her that it is Morgan. Her mother tells her she is wrong. His name is Carson and he is bad news.
Where is he? Lauren tells her mother she let him go. Lauren races back to the airstrip and finds Harold dead. She returns to the summer house. Her mother is gone. She heads to the bunker. Catherine is there, on the bunker floor. Morgan/Carson switches the lights off. He taunts her in the dark and attacks her.
Knocking her unconscious, he chains her up in the bunker. He tells Lauren that he poisoned Archer with rat poison. He knew she would release him if he played on her emotions.
Morgan/Carson pulls Catherine off the floor and sits her down. He tells Lauren about the night he forced himself on Catherine. Archer punched him and put him in the car. On the drive, they hit a student, the real Morgan Warner. Morgan/Carson broke the injured student’s neck.
He had planned to blackmail Archer, knowing that he would not want the story of the accident to come out.
Archer had knocked him unconscious and put him in the bunker. Over the years, Archer had treated him more like a pet, telling everything about his life. Morgan/Carson tells Lauren and Catherine that he is going to kill the entire family. Lauren attacks him and scratches his face.
Morgan/Carson shoves her against the wall and tells her he is her father. Catherine shoots him dead. She tells Lauren that she is a Monroe. They burn the bunker with Morgan/Carson in it. The end.
Final thoughts: Inheritance is an okay-ish thriller let down by a silly end and unnecessary complexity. The acting is quite good from all involved but it is only Collins and Pegg who have any heavy lifting to do story-wise.
Like the far superior The Silence Of The Lambs, Inheritance tries to play a cat-and-mouse game between the captive Morgan/Carson and his reluctant jailer Lauren. As I said, the performances of the two central actors help in keeping one engaged but there is just too much going on elsewhere.
Directed by Vaughn Stein and written by Matthew Kennedy, Inheritance tries a little too hard outside of the central story, with Crawford’s William running for congress and the ongoing court case being too muddle and vague to care about.
The pacing of the film was quite good up until the rushed ending, with Pegg’s Morgan/Carson giving out a massive amount of expository dialogue. There was also obvious things that irked, such as Morgan/Carson not simply overpowering the obviously scared Lauren on the multiple occasions he had the opportunity to do so.
Though Collins was good and even managed to mostly overcome her schoolgirl looks, her being a district attorney, especially one that seemed to have very little control of her emotions, challenged belief in the character.
Pegg, who had been great up until the final third, turns from a cunning antagonist into a Joker pastiche. Inheritance is not the worst thriller on Netflix and is watchable but it is a little disappointing given the promising premise.