Lauren Monroe (Lily Collins) is the privileged daughter of a white and very wealthy family. She seems quite young to be the District Attorney already, and yet that it what she is. You might think this is reason to be proud, but her father (Patrick Warburton), a banker, sneered at public service and would have preferred she work for a private firm where she could be defending her family’s interests. Her younger brother William (Chace Crawford) is a Congressman running for a second term. He also seems young for his position, but let’s just go with it. He’s vehemently denying that the family has made financial contributions in exchange for union votes, but his campaign has the slight whiff of scandal. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that William is his father’s favourite child, a valuation that seems starkly measured in his will when their father dies unexpectedly. It would seem that he loved his son about 20 times as much as he loved his daughter, if love can be measured in the millions of dollars inherited by them.
But Lauren doesn’t just get a slap in the face in the will, she also inherits a family secret. And boy is it a doozie. A serious, serious doozie, but I will refrain from saying anything more and I implore you to go into this film not knowing any more than this. A thriller works best when you allow it to thrill you, and thrills function best with the element of surprise on their side. Modern movie trailers seem to have forgotten this, but since Inheritance is found on Netflix, there’s a good chance you can make it there without accidentally spoiling it for yourself.
Netflix has vast resources and it churns out content at a truly remarkable rate. This results in both hits and misses, but I heard a Netflix executive tell their team that they weren’t failing enough, which meant they weren’t taking enough risks. Being Netflix means you can afford to take more risks on the kind of content that big studios have all but given up on: indie movies, untested directors, new formats, and more. Their deep pockets are attracting increasingly impressive talent, and it is quickly becoming a real Oscar contender. Audiences have largely learned to go into Netflix movies with low expectations; the movie might be great, but is much more likely to be mediocre, and quite often they’re very, very bad. But having paid a monthly fee rather than a per-movie rental, it’s easier to take chances on movies we’re not sure we’ll like. It’s movie watching with no strings attach. But once in a while, it achieves cultural zeitgeist; early on in our global quarantine, the world consumed The Tiger King together, and it united us even in our isolation. Before that, it was Making a Murderer that stirred us into disrupting the legal system. Inheritance isn’t going to be universally beloved. It is not a great film or an important one, but is a good, solid thriller, the way thriller should be made. It’s also an increasingly rare opportunity to go into a movie fairly blind, and allow one’s self to be surprised, and entertained.