Five ambitious cousins set out on a family reunion during a winter storm. They hope to please the elders and secure their inheritance, a fortune that dates back to days of slavery. Their Uncle Melvin welcomes them with open arms, but warns them to respect their family traditions. During the weekend, as each of the cousins mysteriously disappears, they learn the truths about their family legacy, blood ancestor – Chakabazz, and the ultimate sacrifice they must make in exchange for their beloved inheritance.
Worst chant ever to invoke the spirit of a long dead blood ancestor: “Come Chakabazz come! Come Chakabazz come! Come Chakabazz, come Chakabazz, come Chakabazz come!”
Written and Directed by Robert O’Hara
Starring: Rochelle Aytes, Golden Brooks, Keith David, Shawn Michael Howard, DB Woodside
75% of this movie was really good. Director Robert O’Hara knows how to film and piece together a movie. His camera shots were thought out, his use of techniques like dissolves, fades, and montages within a single camera shot were imaginative and effective. The actors were top notch throughout the film even as it devolved towards the end. Stand-out performances include the gorgeous Golden Brooks (“Beauty Shop”2005) as Karen , the only cousin at the family reunion not looking for a hand-out, Shawn Michael Howard (“Next Day Air” 2009)as Simpson, the game programmer looking to buy a satellite with his inheritance, and Keith David (“Chain Letter” 2010, “Crash” 2004, “The Thing” 1982) as the family patriarch with bad intentions. My favorite, biased as I may be, was DB Woodside (President Wayne Palmer on “24”, the best show ever before “Dexter” was made.) He’s just a really good actor who may even be to refined to play Henry, the undefeated fighter looking for his own share of any money available. He pulled it off, of course, I just want to see him in something more dramatic, more serious. He has some serious chops and someone should be tripping over themselves to give him a bigger role. He has “Leading Man” dripping off of him.
The story started off interesting enough. The synopsis above that I pulled from the movie’s website is exactly what the film is about and is legitimately intriguing. The characters are all believable and their motivations for being at the reunion make sense. (That is, except for the white couple who are there to help out Simpson, they’re obviously the “token” white folk, and like the red-shirted security guys in Star Trek, are the first to go. Kudos on that one, Mr. O’Hara!) The Chakabazz mythology was interesting too. He’s sort of like a black Jesus who came to save the slaves with the only caveat being that he required human sacrifice to bring them deliverance. I looked for some truth to this myth online and couldn’t find any in my usual stomping grounds, so I don’t know if it has any basis in history (which would have been really cool) or if this is something O’Hara made up. Either way it had great potential.
But from the moment we see the ritual garb of the modern-day followers of Chakabazz, the story begins losing its credibility and consequently its momentum, until finally it falls to that chant I mentioned above. I hand it to all of the actors for getting through that scene, and wonder why someone, anyone, involved with the production failed to point out that this part of the movie was beyond ridiculous.
I’d like to say that The Inheritance was a fantastic film. It certainly showcased elements that are found in fantastic films. Unfortunately, absurdity beat a good story over the head and turned what could have been a great movie into something that is only ok.