‘The curse runs through her veins’
The Heiress is a 2021 British horror film about two sisters, one of whom is bedevilled by ghosts that seek the other’s unborn child.
Directed by actor Chris Bell (Haunted franchise; Knights of the Damned; The Curse of Robert the Doll) – making his feature directorial debut – from a screenplay co-written with Danny Prescott, Kelly Prescott and soundtrack composer Jezz Vernon.
The Old Way Film & Television production stars Candis Nergaard (White Chamber), Jayne Wisener (Boogeyman 3; Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street), David Schaal, Jonny Phillips, David Wayman and Flip Webster.
Devoted sisters Clare (Candis Nergaard) and Anna (Jayne Wisener) live together. Clare suffers from fits and Anna cares for Clare between her time at work and time seeing her boyfriend. However, when Clare begins to see ghostly visions within the house Anna has difficulty believing her.
As the visions worsen they test Clare’s sanity, until one night she mistakenly attacks Anna – believing her to be one of the ghosts. Clare is hospitalised but the visions continue to haunt her. But Clare was never the true target, the spectres were after Anna and her unborn child all along. Now Clare must find out how to protect her sister, while locked up in a secure psychiatric facility…
Initially, The Heiress has the feel of a typical British kitchen-sink drama, albeit in a good way. The gradual creepiness escalates while strong characterisation and solid acting begin to draw the viewer in. With some wry observations on the clash between medical treatment and spiritual guidance, The Heiress is impressive all around.
” …it’s a subtle film and all the better for it. The slow, creeping dread of the family’s growing realisation that Claire’s torment is supernatural rather than medical takes place among the prosaic locations of suburban sitting rooms and hospital wards, which makes The Heiress all the more scary.” Bloody Flicks
” …it’s a subtle film and all the better for it. The slow, creeping dread of the family’s growing realisation that Claire’s torment is supernatural rather than medical takes place among the prosaic locations of suburban sitting rooms and hospital wards, which makes The Heiress all the more scary.” Dark Eyes of London
“The Heiress is thought-provoking and effective. There’s more weight to the material than you might expect from a horror film and as a feature debut, it’s a win for Bell. The end is a little rushed after such a slow build-up, and I would have liked it to have been fleshed out more, but other than that The Heiress has plenty going for it.” Entertainment Focus
“The writers successfully set up a haunted house and spook story while looking into the live issues of mental illness and depression, with difficult family relations […] Overall it’s a satisfyingly unsettling film with its weight towards dialogue and character…” Film News
“A well-structured and cannily told tale, The Heiress presents a thoroughly modern twist of the typical haunted house story. One that is backed up by two strong female performances and has the unique ability to add horror to, what could otherwise be, a kitchen sink drama.” The Hollywood News
“Good to see the middle-class get a spooking for once. The Heiress may not quite be a future classic but there is certainly enough here to warrant the genre fan’s attention and first-time feature director Chris Bell certainly shows a talent for horror. Witches, ghosts, secrets, lies, a great final line – what’s not to like?” Horrified
“Bell has crafted a gripping supernatural horror film that eschews the typical final girl main character in favor of a troubled but strong woman who struggles for independence from both otherworldly evil and familial pressures. The Heiress is unique, quality independent horror fare that offers plenty of dramatic heft to complement its more thrilling elements.” Horror Fuel
“It isn’t unusual for supernatural horror to play on our sense that the ghosts may be imagined, yet The Heiress does this in a believable way […] The Heiress is an atmospheric, character-driven horror, which blurs the lines between the psychological and supernatural. It is an enjoyable watch and highly recommended.” Horror Girly
“Nergaard and Wisener have an interesting rapport, and the film takes care to make the ‘normal’ sister interesting and, as the story spins, as much in danger as the haunted yet resilient protagonist. It fits in with a recent strain of horror that’s dealt with intergenerational troubles in female-dominated families – Hereditary, Relic, Reunion – but also has a nice, rooted British feel.” The Kim Newman Web Site
“Much like the recent Relic or even the likes of Saint Maud and Our House, The Heiress takes the inherent tension in family life and every day relationships and spins that familiarity into something unnerving. While it never reaches the heights of those aforementioned, it is certainly worth checking out.” Movie Ramblings
“The Heiress is a welcome addition to modern Brit Horror, it’s somehow both familiar-feeling and fresh at the same time […] An unexpected delight from start to finish.” My Bloody Reviews
“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’ attention and doesn’t unearth much new information that could really spur the narrative forward.” The Up Coming
The Heiress will be released on DVD in North America by 4Digital Media on March 16th 2021.
Cast and characters:
Candis Nergaard … Clare
Jayne Wisener … Anna
David Schaal … Father John O’Shea
Jonny Phillips … Doctor Medhurst
David Wayman … Dan
Flip Webster … Lillith
Mark Arden … Roy
Denise Stephenson … Linda
Chris Bell … Brad
Sharon Lawrence … Dorothy
Jean Trend … Abigail
Annabelle Fernando … Young Claire
Jessica Emily Venn … Young Abigail
Natasha Rose Mills … Young Dorothy
David Beck … Chess Player
John Michael Lowe … Pub MC / Background
Nicholas Spinner … Orderly
Patrick-Nicholas Johnston … Young Father
Susan Graham … Nurse (as Sue Graham)
Stuart Anderson … Bearded Familiar / Father
Connor Spicer … 2nd Familiar Child
Oliver Bell … Edward / Familiar #1
Mauro Marin Cuesta … Young Edward
Essex and Kent, England
Filmed from 31st July 2020.