29 Jul 2022
Humphrey Brown III
Damon Hoyle, Jessica Davis, Natoya Danielle, Humphrey Brown III
Drenched in covid-induced familial anxiety, Inherited offers an emotionally articulate response to the question of covid-era representation.
Now over two years on since the beginning of the pandemic, one we are still in fact shackled to, filmmakers have progressed past the unnecessarily tendentious question of whether it is too soon to depict the horrors of COVID-19 - and its cataclysmic impact on families - to broach a more pressing ethical quandary: how should we depict it? And while there is obviously no correct answer to this question, director Humphrey Brown III offers a deft and emotionally articulate response with Inherited.
Mostly comprised of footage from several Zoom meetings, the short follows stalwart son Michael – played with apt emotional enervation by Damon Hoyle – and his quarrelling siblings as they attempt to find their missing father and pastor Michael Sr. during the height of Texas’ grappling with the pandemic. But Michael’s concerns bubble to boiling point upon discovering financial woes about Michael Sr’s floundering church, and how this might play a part in the pastor’s erratic behaviour.
Based off writer Sekou Browne’s own period of covid-induced terror – Browne tirelessly cared for his ailing grandmother throughout the chaos of the pandemic – Inherited feels poignant and sincere. There is tangible fear here: Michael’s half smiling/half-worry leaden expression as he tries to assuage his bickering family’s concerns signposts that maybe everything won’t be alright after all. It’s the same sort of expression we have all grown to master during our own brush with the virus.
Also running through this dizzying familial sadness is Joseph Zgamba’s pallid, overcast photography, which imbues the hazy Texan setting with a sense of foreboding worthy of a Scandinavian crime thriller. It’s as if the baleful spectre of death and misfortune hangs in the atmosphere like an unseen villain, waiting to strike Michael and his family at a moments notice.
And unlike the latest wave of overly didactic covid dramas that attempt to chart an entire nation’s experience of the pandemic in one gelatinous mess – see the Chinese Government’s saccharine propaganda piece, Ode to the Spring – Inherited is imbued with tautness and palpable anguish that aptly focuses on one family’s travail and attempt at survival.