Quick Hit: Terrifying and uncomfortable from nearly start to finish.
I saw Hereditary in theatres after seeing all the rave reviews. And up until today, I hadn’t attempted to write a review. For someone that likes to talk and write, that’s quite a statement. The reason why? Hereditary profoundly disturbed me – there are moments in it that I will never forget. In fact, most of the movie holds to a blueprint of being as disturbing as possible.
From the opening moments, with a panning camera shot that leads us in through a dollhouse, spinning until we find Peter (Alex Wolff of My Friend Dahmer and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle) laying on the bed. It’s a surreal start but perfectly encapsulates what is about to follow – something that will warp your expectations and feel off at the edges, despite giving you a few of something that is ordinary. Make no mistake – in some ways the world of Hereditary is eerily like our own – the world (and the show) must go on, but sometimes the world also has occult edges. I think this starts with the camera, which frequently uses shots that are traditional haunted house vibes, despite the fact that this isn’t really a haunted house movie. First time director Ari Aster uses that to push you into thinking that certain things might occur before they do, and just when you don’t expect to be able to see it… boom. You do, and you linger on it for much longer than you want to.
This is incredibly evident throughout the movie, but there are two very particular scenes that I think stick out. I can’t ruin them, because they hold the film’s pace and ideas in a stranglehold, and without those, the film may not give you the same hold it does me. I think the pace of the film is extremely important, and with the dollhouses that Annie (Toni Collette of Krampus and Miss You Already) continues to build and build, we’re given a reference point to these horrors. It’s a tremendous idea for the framing, and both increases the horror of the events while making you feel strangely more relaxed with them.
Speaking of Ms. Collette, I can’t think of a character in a horror film that deserves a performance award as much as she does. She takes the film from its opening moments and makes it hers, despite very talented performances from the rest of the cast. Whether she is screaming, yelling, grunting, speaking, or just simply concentrating, every moment feels calculated and pure to her character. Her character is also fairly difficult to predict, and I think that comes from Ms. Collette’s performance as well – if she played this one by the numbers, Hereditary would have been good, but not exceptional. Her ability to guide us to things off-screen is still giving me chills months later.
I feel like this movie will eventually be in film study classes, because it is just a master class in tension. I can’t think of too much else I want to say about it, and I’m giving it an “A+”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"