Things that go bump in the night

Dan and Jessica are a typical young, all-American couple whose dream of owning a bed & breakfast has just come true. They’ve put everything they have into purchasing the March Carriage House (built in 1665), which turns out to have a very checkered history indeed.

As they delve into the house’s past, Dan and Jessica come to realize that they may not be the only inhabitants of the March Carriage House … Just in time to celebrate Halloween in high, horrific style, The Inhabitants has been released on VOD this week (available through iTunes, Amazon, Xbox, Vudu, etc.), with a DVD and Blu-ray release from FilmRise in early 2016.

The film marks the latest cinematic endeavor for sibling filmmakers Michael and Shawn Rasmussen under their “Sinister Siblings Films” production banner. The brothers co-wrote, co-produced and codirected the film, with Michael doubling (and tripling) as editor and cinematographer.

Although there is violence, The Inhabitants is not splattered in gore. Although Dan discovers hidden cameras throughout the house, it’s not a found-footage film. And although there are numerous homages to films that inspired the Rasmussens, it’s not a sendup. It’s played, and presented, completely straight – with mood, atmosphere, and a mounting sense of dread taking precedence.

“For this film, we just wanted to keep the cast small and create an intimate story about a couple dealing with this haunted bed & breakfast, and focus on their relationship,” says Michael. “We were inspired by some of the classic ghost stories we watched growing up: The Changeling, The Haunting of Julia, Audrey Rose and Burnt Offerings. You’ll notice their influences throughout the film.”

“We really wanted to create something that felt like it was made during that era, but then inject new elements into the story that would appeal to a modern-day audience,” adds Shawn.

Much of the film hinges on the onscreen relationship between the young couple, Dan and Jessica, and how both – especially Jessica – begin to succumb to the house’s evil. They are played by Michael Reed and Elise Couture, who previously appeared in the Rasmussens’ 2013 directorial debut Dark Feed.

Originally from Orlando, Couture attended UNC-Chapel Hill from 2004- ’06. Although she studied acting, she majored in medieval women’s history. It was also there that she met her husband Chris, and the two welcomed daughter Margot in July 2014. In fact, Couture was pregnant during production of The Inhabitants.

She recalled with a laugh that when she auditioned for Dark Feed, she was ill with a cold – “I sounded like a frog!” – and figured she’d blown it. Instead, she came back for another reading and landing a supporting role.

What initially seemed a one-off has become an ongoing collaboration.

“They were so fun to work with, and the cast and crew were so fun to work with – I’m still friends with most of them,” Couture says. “I remember Shawn and Michael – while laughing themselves – trying to remind us all that we actually had work to do.

“Alas, the Dark Feed came to an end and I thought we’d return to being acquaintances, but instead, in true ‘R-Bro’ style, we became friends. The next thing I knew, they asked me to be the lead in their new project, The Inhabitants. I didn’t even have to audition. I think my initial response was: ‘Are you sure you want me?!’ They said ‘yes!’ so I said ‘yes,’ and we got to work.”

“For this film, we didn’t want to go through an arduous audition process,” Michael explains. “We wanted to work with actors we were familiar with. That way, when we wrote the script we could play to their strengths – and that’s just what we did with Michael and Elise.”

Couture affectionately refers to Reed (fondly remembered for his title turn in the 2011 spoof The Disco Exorcist) as her “partner in crime.”

“Michael is a professional and I often thought to myself that there was no way that my acting skills were up to his caliber,” Couture admits. “He challenged me. He made me step up – quickly. I love acting; it’s something I’ve been doing for fun in my spare time, but he has the chops. Because we had such an awesome, supportive team, Michael and I were able to really dig in, work with the brothers to achieve what they wanted, and get the work done.”

Although it could be said that the Rasmussens are the “Coen Brothers of horror,” they don’t take that description lightly.

“To be mentioned in the same sentence as the Coen Brothers is a huge honor for us,” Michael says. “We’ve been inspired by their work throughout the years, and their first film Blood Simple was such a great example of what’s possible with a very limited budget.”

“Horror is definitely in our wheelhouse,” Shawn agrees. “It’s something we enjoy watching and enjoy creating. It also has a very committed fan base.”

“I am terrified of horror films – don’t tell the Rasmussens!” Couture admits with good humor. “When I do watch them, I watch them with my knees tucked under my chin and my fingers laced over my eyes, only peering out a few times throughout the duration. That said, I love making scary films. There’s something completely magical about making them, and who doesn’t love magic?”

The official Facebook site for The Inhabitants is: TheInhabitantsMovie. !