Out this week in cinemas is Hereditary. Written and directed by Ari Aster this film stars Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, and Gabriel Byrne.
Hereditary follows Annie Graham (Collette) and her family after the death of her mother. Annie doesn’t know how to cope now that her mother is gone as they had quite a strained relationship up until the very end. This is not helped by the fact that her young daughter Charlie (Shapiro) who was adored by her grandmother seems to be distancing herself from the rest of the family after the death.
One night Peter (Wolff) is off to a party and to try to help Charlie connect with children from school Annie pushes Charlie on Peter. He’s not pleased about this and when the opportunity to head off with a hot girl arises he takes his chance and leaves his young sister unattended. Events unfold and from here Hereditary becomes something quite disturbing, horribly unsettling, and easily the best horror of 2018.
The cast of Hereditary is brilliant. Since I saw him on My Friend Dahmer Alex Wolff has impressed me with his unassuming talent. He brings a vulnerability to the role of Peter and he surprised me with his emotively charged acting. He has some of the most emotional scenes in the film and he does so much at times with only the expressions on his face. Young Milly Shapiro is terrifying as Charlie the introvert of the family. You don’t get much from her but like Wolff Shapiro sells most of her scenes with a simple gesture and sound. It’s subtle, simple, and effective. Collette is no slouch, however, being the eyes of the audience into this mad world. She gives exposition but in such a way that comes across so naturally that you won’t even notice.
Then as the film amps up and Annie’s world spirals out of control you feel every moment of terror that she and her family experience. This is a testament to Toni Collette’s incredible talent and the talent surrounding her. If there was a weak link it would be Gabriel Byrne, he doesn’t have as much to do like the rest of his co-stars and on top of that halfway through the film his American accent drops and we’re reminded he’s one of the best Irish actors around. He’s the closest character in Hereditary that is an unnecessary element but even then he still needs to exist to complete the jigsaw puzzle that is Hereditary.
I always have a rule though and that is if a horror is genuinely scary and unlike Truth or Dare that released earlier this year Hereditary is brimming with horror. Not just that there is nothing cheap in their scares, they feel genuine and are powerful in their presentation. As the film comes to the third act the horror does ramp up moving from unsettling to all-out disturbing. It’s incredible and stays with you long after the credits roll.
Writer/director Ari Aster has created something that, in my opinion, is quite revolutionary. The foreshadowing of where characters are going, where the story unfolds from one scene to the next is incredible. There is a camera decision in the second act that leads into a scene in the third act that blew my mind. Not everything is about the visuals of Hereditary though. Every sentence spoken by a character is purposeful meaning that once the film comes to its climax you can look back on it and connect the dots yourself. This is an entertaining exercise that adds further depth to the screenplay that Aster has written.
From top to bottom Hereditary is an excellent film. The smothering score, the terrifying visuals, and the mind-bending storytelling every part of this film is tremendous in its execution. If you’re a horror fan this is the film for you and if you’re not beware because this is a powerful experience.