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Inherit The Viper
There tends to be an American Gothic level of sorts when one dives into the Ozarks or Appalachian regions for example, regions who hummed along during the middle part of the 20th century only to be left neglected or abandoned now. Sling Blade and Winter's Bone handled those areas well, now Inherit the Viper takes a swing at things using a contemporary topic.
Written by Andrew Crabtree and directed by Anthony Jerjen in his feature debut, Inherit the Viper looks at three brothers and sister in Alabama who are on various points of the opiod dealing business. Kip Conley (Josh Hartnett, 30 Days of Night) tries to stay out of things these days, even while his sister Josie (Margarita Levieva, Adventureland) actively slings. The youngest is Boots (Owen Teague, It: Chapter Two), whom Kip wants to keep out of the business while Josie has no objections to bringing it in. All the while they try to stay out of the trouble that is inherent in their business.
Getting into the weeds of the drug addicted South is an intriguing thing for the Conleys to do, and it's appreciated that the story is eager to dive into such a field. From there, one could go a lot of different directions with the story, and the Conleys hit on a few of those, particularly the family betrayal parts, or those grooming a protégé to take over the business somehow. Reasonable markers for the story to hit to be sure.
But there is a distance the characters hold the viewer, that it not only makes the story feel superficial but even a little unbelievable. If you're going to go into the Mideast, go all the way! Be like Mark Ruffalo or Bill Camp in Dark Waters; grow the beard, or get the gut, or knock the teeth out. Make something out of the story that you may not be able to have realized otherwise. Taking a look at Bruce Dern (a href="https://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/63393/nebraska/">Nebraska) for a moment; he plays the patriarch of a rival family, who offers words of advice in presumed part because he has seen the damage to the town for a lot longer. He makes something with the little time he has, and he's in a wheelchair to boot! There are a few other intriguing names in here, but they don't get a lot to do, and things feel wasted, particularly with the film's 84 minutes, more could have been accomplished.
Inherit the Viper takes the opioid crisis and rather than doing something good, or even possess some flash despite the derivative nature, attempts to be all movies to all different people, and becomes no kind of movie to anyone in the process. Any way would have been better for the film to do, yes, even the boring ones, and Viper tries to put a few people into the grunge of the south, but should have told them to listen to Skynyrd before doing so so at least they could have been a little more authentic.
The 2.39:1 widescreen disc of Inherit the Viper looks solid; lots of the film transpires in darkly lit moments like after hours factories or in bars, and the black levels tend to hold up well but aren't too inky. The lighter moments look fine; stray snowflakes catch the light and cause a brief squint, flesh tones are natural as are the colors in the film, which are understandably muted and drab. It is a nice presentation even if the story is not the cheeriest.
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless and it's generally fine. Generic older country and rock sounds good, a late sniper scene has bullets whiz by and pan naturally and effectively, and the thud of a post into the ground provides a bit of low end to boot. Dialogue sounds consistent and nothing is inflated in the soundtrack, sounds good all around.
I hope that more films get the chance to explore the modern South ghost towns, or even those of the flyover states, because there are some stories that are begging to be told; go seek out Mind the Gap for some good ones. That conviction and raw feeling are not in Inherit the Viper and things become a waste. It looks and sounds fine, but a better film would make this an easier decision.