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Jason Widgington [Film Festival 10.21.18] Mexico horror

What evil lurks in the basement of a powerful and corrupt senator's creepily empty home? In The Inhabitant, three sisters intent on robbing the place are about to find out, and it will force them to fight their own inner demons and dark secrets as they try to figure out how to escape from the demonic presence's grasp and save the girl it has possessed.

Camila (Vanesa Restrepo), Maria (Maria Evoli), and Anita (Carla Adell) have received some insider information about some bribe money stashed away in the senator's safe in his mansion and proceed to break into the home and steal it to pay back a debt owed by Camila. When they don't find the money where it's supposed to be, they start searching the house, waking the sleeping senator (Flavio Medina) and his wife Angelica (Gabriela de la Garza) in the process. When the sisters tie the couple up and demand to know where the cash is, the senator begs them not to look in the basement. Of course, to Camila this means the money must be in the basement and she goes down there only to find the couple's daughter Tamara (Natasha Cubria) tied up to a bed and begging to be saved. Camila very quickly concludes (we learn exactly why later in the film) that the senator is physically and sexually abusing his own daughter and her focus is switched from getting the money and getting out to saving young Tamara from this monster. As it turns out, though, Tamara is possessed by a demonic entity with the ultimate intention of complete dominion over humanity.

Writer/director Guillermo Amoedo has made a name for himself co-writing films such as Aftershock, The Green Inferno, and Knock Knock with horror wunderkind Eli Roth, but in directing his own script for The Inhabitant, Amoedo is able to create a somewhat fresh spin on the possession tale while imbuing the film with his own visual style and atmospheric ambiance. The cinematography is impressive, including some magnificent shots of long and dark empty hallways leading to rooms that contain painful memories for anyone who looks into them, while the score by Manuel Riveiro strikes all the right notes in setting the tone throughout.

Although some of the tropes of possession/exorcism films are necessarily present, the religious aspect is used mainly as bookends and the meat of the story is based upon individual struggles with past sins and experiences as presented to the sisters by the malevolent demon inside of Tamara. To that end, Cubria turns in a splendidly subdued performance as Tamara, eschewing the usual profane, otherworldly-voiced, Latin-spewing characteristics of the possessed in most of these types of films. She speaks in a normal voice, albeit often with a devilish and darkly playful grin as she plays the game of moral chess with each character.

When Cardinal Pedro Natale (Fernando Becerril) finally arrives to perform an exorcism on young Tamara, much of the damage has already been done, and while anyone who has been paying attention to the foreshadowing throughout can easily see the final twist coming, The Inhabitant is still an enjoyable and atmospheric fright flick and a worthy addition to the ever-growing pantheon of possession/exorcism films.

Recommended Release: The Exorcist

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