The horror genre is polarizing and what scares audiences is very subjective. Never has this statement been truer than with Ari Aster’s first feature-length chiller, Hereditary. To give a synopsis of this film would mean spoiling what should be a premier horror event for audiences.
The most we can say about the story is everything you’ve already seen in the trailers: Grandmother dies. The family is strange. There is a creepy girl. Something is not quite right in the household.
To go beyond that description would be a disservice to our readers and all we can say is, you may think you are ready for Hereditary, but really, you have no idea what you are getting into.
Hereditary is being hailed as the new The Exorcist for our generation. This is praise that seems oft thrown around in horror circles whenever a supernatural movie does a good job. We’ve seen similar comparisons in other indie darlings like It Comes At Night and The Witch; both which opened to rave reviews but unsatisfied audiences. Does Hereditary earn its stripes? We think so. However, don’t expect any spinning heads or demon-fueled possessions in this flick.
What made The Exorcist so special to audiences when it premiered was that it was a story about the unraveling of the American household of the time. It was about the end of innocence and one mother’s struggle to hold her small family together.
When approaching Hereditary from the angle of a demented family drama in the vein of films like The Exorcist, sure, it hits the mark. Watching the family dynamic in this household unwind is at times so uncomfortable, that one may wish for a visual shock to help ease the emotional tension.
To put it bluntly; watching Hereditary comes with the equivalent sorrow of watching a mother shake a screaming newborn for two hours straight.
As far as acting goes, Toni Collette (Krampus, The Sixth Sense), Gabriel Byrne (End of Days), and Alex Wolff (My Friend, Dahmer, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle) do astounding jobs in their roles. Each of them has their moment to shine and when they do, we have some true dramatic excellence that has been missing from the silver screen for what has felt like ages.
However, the true stars of this film are Milly Shapiro, and the camera that captures the familial devastation that unwinds throughout this tale. Shapiro plays the creepy Charlie. The young girl prominently featured in the promotional ads for this film. All we can say is that even when she is not on screen, the intensity she brings to her performance resonates throughout the entire 2-hour film.
The camera work in Hereditary is perfection. Aster shows us exactly what we need to see, while still leaving viewers in suspense through blurred shots and quick spurts of horror that are unrelenting at times.
Is Hereditary for You?
While we loved this film, we feel that it will not do well with a mainstream audience. Trailers have promoted Heredity as an in-your-face horror flick that could be a cousin to the latest paranormal hit from Jason Blum.
This is definitely not the case for Hereditary. This movie takes its time to get to the horror. While we like to avoid the term ‘slow burn,’ that is really the best way to describe Hereditary. Although there is a large element of supernatural horror in the movie, the main focus of the horror revolves around a dark family drama, and to some, that alone can be terrifying. As we mentioned before, horror is subjective, and not all audiences will be scared by Hereditary.
This was not a movie made to please the Average Jane and Joe. Much like Drive to the action genre, Hereditary will dwindle at the box office, only to form a deep cult following with true fans of the genre. Does this mean Hereditary fails? Financially, possibly, but this movie was truly made with heart for fans of true horror, and the effort shows as a success.
If you are looking for a gore-fest, the next Insidious, or horror that goes full-steam for the duration of the movie, skip this one. However, if you are looking for the darkness that lies behind the portrayal of grief and mental illness on display in this film, get ready to have the pants scared off of you.
Hereditary opens today and we want to know your thoughts on this movie. Leave some love in the comments below!