Review by Sean Boelman
Inherit the Viper, directed by Anthony Jerjen, is a new crime drama film set in the midst of the opioid epidemic. However, despite an intriguing premise and a talented cast, the script is too underdeveloped and the direction is too uninspired for the movie to be as compelling or substantial as it could have been.
The film tells the story of three siblings who make a living as opioid dealers, all the while trying to avoid the violent conflict that defines the profession. More often than not, the movie is painfully unoriginal, feeling like little more than a conglomeration of tropes of better films that came before. Although there are moments of brilliance sprinkled throughout the script, these are too few and far between to be of much help to the overall narrative.
Perhaps the most shocking thing about the movie is that it clocks in at less than an hour and thirty minutes, yet it feels much longer. Even though a lot of things do happen in the film, these very rarely serve the narrative in a way that is particularly substantial. Not even high-stakes gunfights can make this movie feel any more exciting than it is.
The character development in the film is also very lackluster. Something that could have helped the movie become much more effective is further development of the sibling relationship that serves as the film’s emotional crux. Even though this is by far the most compelling aspect of the script, writer Andrew Crabtree doesn’t seem to realize that, and as a result, the movie never reaches its full potential.
Hints of substance can be seen throughout the script with a message about the opioid crisis and its effects on middle-and-lower-class America, yet this doesn’t come through in a script that seems too tied up in paying homage to its genre roots. Had the film cut some of the needless wandering in the first act, extra time could have been spent exploring these themes and the movie could have been much more intriguing.
The cast that was assembled for the film is admittedly very strong, although they aren’t used to their full potential. The only performer who feels appropriately used is Margarita Levieva, who gives an admirably ferocious turn as one of the three siblings. Josh Harnett and Owen Teague round out the trio, but are disappointingly forgettable. Even the magnificent Bruce Dern in a supporting role can’t save this dull movie.
Stylistically, the film has a look for which it was aiming, and it achieves it for the most part, but it does the script no favors. By giving the movie a dark and gloomy setting, Jerjen seems to want to emphasize the grittiness of the tale and bring to mind the classics, but unfortunately, this more often than not results in the film feeling grey and gloomy.
Though there are a lot of things working in the favor of Inherit the Viper, these factors never come together into a story that is particularly satisfying. It feels obvious that everyone involved thinks they are part of something greater, but in reality, it’s just a subpar and generic thriller.
Inherit the Viper hits theaters and VOD on January 10.