Movie Review: ‘Hereditary’


Director: Ari Aster

Cast: Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, Milly Shaprio, Gabriel Byrne, Ann Dowd

Plot: The film opens with Ellen Graham attending her mother’s funeral and revealing some deep rooted issues with their relationship. In the months that follow Ellen and her children begin experiencing creepy occurrences.

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Review: Straight up, don’t watch the trailer. Whoever stitched that thing together didn’t care much for spoilers. They didn’t spell out the plot twists but they do make use of many images that will reduce their impact when part of a larger story. Some of the posters and trailers want to fit this into the current crop of generic haunted thing horror movies.

But that’s not what it is. It’s different from what is trending in horror films. We’re going to keep things vague because this movie is best seen blind, but this film has more in common with the horror genre as it existed decades earlier. This retro style isn’t leaned on as a gimmick though, it’s here as an influence to contribute it’s strongest features.

What really separates Hereditary from modern horror films is how patient it is. Calling it a ‘slow burn’ doesn’t even do it justice, the story remains tightly focused on the characters and their arc into the horrifying truth around their family. The audience was incredibly tense throughout the film as creepy events, images and music build upon each other. There are some seeds planted very early in the film that takes the full running time to come to fruition. 

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Debut director Aster has a started his career on a high point, as the film is visually stunning. He knows when to keep a steady hand on the camera, sometimes leaving it locked down and letting a character work through some inner demons whilst the audience becomes slowly aware that there’s SOMETHING in the top corner of the room and at some point it’s going to move…or it doesn’t. He’s also adept at a well placed jump cut to add to the increasing disorientation felt by viewers trying to piece together what happens.

So, yeah. It’s a good horror film. But…some of the third act stumbles. There’s a few effects and visuals that cross the line from unsettling to silly. If they had been a bit more selective with the imagery instead of going full kitchen sink it may have panned out better. Any whilst we’ll being critical, what happened to the dog? He’s in the first scene and didn’t appear again for about an hour. More dog.

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Third act stumbles aside this is a damn fine horror movie. It’s intriguing, mysterious, remarkably well shot and deeply unsettling. There’s a few moments that will need a few days to shake off.

Rating: EIGHT out of TEN

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