Injecting a very British flavour to a popular haunted-house concept, The Heiress explores the relationship between two devout sisters who, after the passing of their grandmother, begin to feel a ghostly presence intrude into their home and personal lives. Clare (Candis Nergaard) first begins to feel the psychological burden of the phantom, suffering fits so damaging that Anna (Jayne Wisener) must care for her whilst managing her relationship and pregnancy with boyfriend Dan (David Wayman). As Clare’s mental health begins to deteriorate, the threat level to those around her begins to grow and she must choose whether to confront her tormenting demons or lose those she loves the most.
More of a psychological thriller than a blood-curdling horror, this flick is made to make your skin crawl rather than jump out of your seat. Directed by actor-turned-director Chris Bell, the film asks questions from the outset on what the masked spirits truly want from the sisters, slowing revealing what is behind that door as their sanity begins to wane. Taking the mechanisms best known for manufacturing a feature-length horror, Bell and the rest of the writing team have attempted to incorporate the emotional realism we have seen in more modern successful products of the genre, with the aim of presenting a more detailed and layered story. One thing is for sure; despite being a classic yet cliché scary-movie tenet, there really is nothing more chilling than a creepy kid in a mask.
Bell himself makes a cheeky cameo in the work, chugging down a few beers before exciting stage left once he also is subjected to the evil in the house, but it is the performances of both Nergaard and Wisener that predominantly stand out in the 83-minute feature. The on-screen sisters both prove to be the vital cog in this low-budget British flick, the latter in particular blessed with the utterly exhausting task of portraying a woman not just finding the inner fibres of her being stretched to breaking point by restless spirits, but her external familial relationships also. Once her sister is detained in the hospital, Wisener then takes the reins, seizing the opportunity to showcase her talents quite brilliantly.
It could be argued that one of the main pitfalls of The Heiress actually comes in the fact that it isn’t particularly lengthy. There would have been a lot more room for character development and growth with a longer run time, rather than the truncated conclusion we’re given. When combined with dialogue that really is rather uninspiring, the movie fails at times to grab the viewers’s attention and doesn’t unearth much new information that could really spur the narrative forward. The film has a vast amount of potential, but not by the fault of the actors, it unfortunately struggles to elevate itself beyond simplicity to the next level and portray something earth-shatteringly unique.
The Heiress is released digitally on demand on 15th March 2021.
Watch the trailer for The Heiress here: