‘Inheritance’ Netflix Review: This Whodunit Filled With Dark Humor Has Nothing New To Offer

Whodunnits are always fun to watch. Within a few hours or a few days of the crime, the killer is caught as the murder of someone close to friends or family takes place. This paves the way for the exposure of the dysfunctionality of friendship and family dynamics and explores various facets of relationships. Whodunits usually begin with a rich man or woman dying. The death is followed by an investigation and a surprise twist in the end. Inheritance is yet another addition to the line of whodunits that has emerged after the success of Knives Out. A lot of Alfred Hitchcock movies were whodunits. Meanwhile, the famous Hercule Poirot books and movies based on this famous character developed by Agatha Christie prove that the whodunit genre has been a part of cinematic pop culture for decades. 

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Inheritance is the story of a rich Polish ex-game show host who now lives like a millionaire because of the many innovations he has patented. He has died, and all his remaining family members have come to his extraordinary lavish mansion in the middle of a harsh Polish winter to offer him their last goodbye. To their surprise, the man had faked his death to meet his family and hoped to reconnect with all of them. It is obvious that the family came running on hearing the news of his death because they were keen to know who the rich man left his fortune to, but they were disappointed after seeing him alive. On the same night, the man is stabbed to death, and suspicion falls on everyone in the mansion as the two people claiming to be police officers begin to investigate the murder. Who are the investigating police officers? Who is the killer? Did the family reconcile after learning of the untimely death of their family patriarch?

Directed by Sylwester Jakimow and written by Lukasz Sychowicz, the movie is layered with a lot of dark humor around the dysfunctional family trope. There is a couple on the verge of a divorce. A long-lost relative of the rich man turns up after thirty years, asking for money. A nephew is expecting money from his uncle ahead of his move to Portugal. All these subplots work in favor of the narrative, as it shapes the motive angle very well. It is interesting to know the writers and the director did a good job of building up the screenplay into an engaging final product. Every whodunit has a certain template which the film follows for the first half of the film until the second half begins, which derails the narrative. The whodunnit template includes the investigation of family members or friends by the police and them going after the usual suspects. The direction can be fast-paced, and include many scenes that seem random initially. Those scenes would be considered crucial to the climax. 

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The direction this time, however, is similar to many whodunnits that have come out in recent times. Knives Out happens to have set a benchmark in the last few years in this genre, and therefore this film too tries to copy this film when it comes to the style of filmmaking. If the writing had been more gripping, then we might have had an excellent Polish film on our hands. However, the interesting plot soon transitions into a predictable mid-section of the film. It is easy to comprehend why there exists the building up of the climax, such that the final reveal would be a surprise. The trope used in this film is one seen in many movies of this genre, so it only serves to make it less engaging. By the second half of the film, the emphasis on family bonding has been stretched to the point where it gets boring. We get that the uncle wanted the family to bond but the film was just trying to prove the point repeatedly. 

The beating around the bush only changes the track of the movie from a whodunit with dark humor to a family comedy. This sudden change was not required. Diverting from the main plot of the show was simply not required. They somehow managed to connect this unnecessary subplot to the ending of the film, as they had to let the viewers know who the killer is. The ending, as expected in any thriller, is surprisingly good, but it is rushed to end the film. The game show in the movie, as mentioned above, was only added to showcase the deceased patriarch’s history, and how the family members were reliving it. The answers found by the family do not add to the humor, which was interesting in the first half. 

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The writers lose the plot, which is sad because whodunits are usually interesting. There are also plot holes in the screenplay when describing the family members and the kinds of activities they indulge in from time to time to save themselves from being caught. The movie talks about a certain character having an affair, but that is simply forgotten by the end of the film. It is kind of glorifying infidelity, and there is no one paying the price for this. The editing on parts of the film is shoddy, while there are some amazing transition shots. The performances of the actors do not leave any impact on the audience, as the focus of the movie is on the investigation and the story. Usually, a whodunit boasts a good cast and acting by the actors. Sadly, that is not the case with Inheritance. Good performances would have helped the audience ignore the mishaps in the screenplay. 

Inheritance is an average whodunit comedy drama that does not offer anything new. A crime drama has to be interesting, but the film is anything but that.

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Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan is a cinema enthusiast, and a part time film blogger. An ex public relations executive, films has been a major part of her life since the day she watched The Godfather – Part 1. If you ask her, cinema is reality. Cinema is an escape route. Cinema is time traveling. Cinema is entertainment. Smriti enjoys reading about cinema, she loves to know about cinema and finding out trivia of films and television shows, and from time to time indulges in fan theories.

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