2018 I 15+ I 127mins I Dir: Ari Aster
A grieving family is haunted by tragic and disturbing occurrences.
There is a sense of hopelessness for the characters here from the get go. Aster makes it clear that there is a greater force observing this family and the slower pace of the film in relation to most horrors really encourages you to pay close attention.
The first two thirds of the film certainly have a focus on establishing the family of characters, their relationships and the lasting trauma they continue to deal with. At the centre of all of this is the always amazing Toni Collette who balances an incredible amount in this role and deserves all of the praise she has received.
The disturbing scenes here pack an emotional weight with them and really get into your head as you begin to understand their deeper meaning. Impressively, Aster has managed to craft the discomfort into some of the smaller moments throughout the film. There is a conversation scene here that is shot in such an unnatural sequence of shot compositions that really makes you feel off without knowing exactly what is wrong. There is a level of attention to what is going on within the viewer on an emotional level that really provides the discomfort. Two of the most notable sequences in the film (the car scene & bedroom scene for those familiar) both utilise extended still shots that force us as the viewer to pick apart the terror within the frame and outside of it.
It wouldn't be a review of Hereditary if I didn't mention its final moments. I think a large part of your enjoyment of the film comes down to how you feel about the ending. The closing moments of the film certainly deliver in a similar way to other horror films, however we've spent so much time understanding and empathising with these characters and their grief that something more than shock value settles in to create some really disturbing imagery that lasts with you after the film has finished.
Those wanting continuous scares and gore should probably look elsewhere. A slow burner with great pay off, Hereditary uses its exploration of grief and tragedy to create genuine moments of terror that sit beneath the skin.
STARRING: Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, Gabrielle Byrne
BEST QUOTE: “DON'T you swear at me, you little s***!"
FUN FACT: Ari Aster has 10 screenplays written he hopes to direct over the course of his career.
IF YOU LIKED: The Babadook, Midsommar