Part gripping slasher, part psychological coming-of-age horror fun, Lizzie Borden-inspired The Inhabitant is a surprising gem among the prime crop of 2022 genre films. If one can get past the oddly generic title, there is a lot to love here. Led by Odessa A’zion (who is notably about to have a great horror year between this and David Bruckner’s Hellraiser), the female-centric delights have a haunting quality about them. Generational trauma and an inescapable past take center stage in bloody entertaining The Inhabitant.
For years, an alleged family curse has haunted the ancestors of Lizze Borden, who killed her stepmother and father with an axe back in April of 1892. Death and unfortunate scenarios continue to haunt the families like a plague in Fall River, Massachusetts. Stories spread like wildfire of dark spirits that possess the women of the family in October… Now, athletic field hockey player Tara (A’zion), a relative of Borden, is about to be pulled into the eerie orbit of the legend. Tara is in her senior year, preparing to say goodbye to her boyfriend, Carl (Michael Cooper Jr.), before he departs for Stanford. Suddenly, Tara becomes plagued by nightmares, and hears voices that aren’t there. Tara’s mom (Leslie Bibb, Popular, Trick ‘r Treat) suggests therapy, and to make sure they visit her killer aunt in the looney bin.
Tara’s best friend, Suzy (Lizze Broadway, American Pie Presents: Girls’ Rules), and her father, Ben (Dermot Mulroney, Insidious: Chapter 3, the upcoming Scream 6), try to support her as Tara’s life spins wildly out of control. Bodies begin to pile up around her, like the first victim: her field hockey rival. Is Tara being driven to murder? Is that really Lizzie Borden coming to her and whispering invisibly in Tara’s ear? Can Tara overcome her obstacles and emerge out the other side unscathed? Making this into a full-on whodunnit slasher was a smart move that director Jerren Lauder and writer Kevin Bachar score major points for. Kills are fun and properly gory, while A’zion steals the show from strictly a performative level. A bold finale gave me a zany reveal and intriguing performances—what more could one ask for?
Something about The Inhabitant just plain works. I have a reverence for Lizzie Borden content—Lifetime’s The Lizzie Borden Chronicles with Christina Ricci is a guilty pleasure favorite, and now The Inhabitant is one of the few projects tackling the legend that effortlessly gets it right. If I had to compare it to another movie, I would say The Inhabitant most closely resembles a female-driven version of Psycho II, a total compliment from what I consider to be one of the greatest year-later sequels ever made. Whether one comes for A’zion or Borden’s macabre connection, The Inhabitant is a surprisingly fun October slasher treat.
The Inhabitant sparks the curse anew when it releases in theaters on Friday, October 7th.