Writer: Ari Aster (Screenplay)
Starring: Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, Ann Dowd, Mallory Bechtel
Plot: When Ellen, the matriarch of the Graham family, passes away, her daughter’s family begins to unravel cryptic and increasingly terrifying secrets about their ancestry. The more they discover, the more they find themselves trying to outrun the sinister fate they seem to have inherited as it slowly destroys everything they know.
Tagline – Every family tree hides a secret.
Runtime: 2 Hours 6 Minutes
There may be spoilers the rest of the review
Verdict: Take Time to Analysis
Story: Hereditary starts as the family Annie (Collette), Steve (Byrne) Peter (Wolff) and Charlie (Shapiro) are dealing with the death of Annie’s mother and the children grandmother, we go through the funeral and life seems to be going on for them. In their remote house Charlie the younger member of the family however still has a connection to her grandmother which sees her acting in strange ways.
After another tragedy in the family, Annie turns to the dark arts to try and communicate only to learn the truth about her family’s ancestry that has put them all in danger.
Thoughts on Hereditary
Characters – Annie is the mother of the house, she always had a distant relationship with her mother and works on miniature models for gallery showings. She tries to understand hr grief and when the next tragedy happens to wants to communicate which only shows her the truth about hr mother, this character is always on edge and has the most important scenes in the movie, some of which will leave you disturbed for a while. Steve is the father of the house, he tries to keep everything grounded through the grief, he tries to support, but will draw the lines at certain points. Peter is the eldest child, a slacker in school that enjoys drugs, he has also become distant from his mother (we do learn why) and he must suffer the most when it comes to the events of the film. Charlie is the youngest child, she is definitely the strangest member of the family and we see her do some very strange activities. She also have the closest bond with the later grandmother.
Performances – We have one of the best performance in horror, no scratch that, any film this year from Toni Collette, her character is on edge throughout the film and the confrontation scene with Peter is easily one of the best performed scenes of the year. Gabriel Byrne is great here, he does take a step back from reacting the way Toni does and that is by design, he needs to play the calmer, serious character and it shows. Alex Wolff who turned into Dwayne Johnson a few months back in Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle, does a very good job here, the only part of his performance I wasn’t convinced by, was his sobbing didn’t feel real. Mill Shapiro is great to and has disturbing scenes to pull off effortlessly too. We have a fantastic family dynamic created by these actors.
Story – The story here follows a family through the grief process, though it gets a supernatural twist on how they deal with it. While the pacing of the story is slow in the first half of the film, that sudden moment that changes everything ramps up the tension in the story and we don’t go the traditional route to get to the scenes you would expect after the incident. This is a story that is like a giant puzzle, I do feel every single long scene where seemingly nothing does happen, means something and this will be a film that could be analysed for years to come. The final third of the film’s story is where everything picks up and it will leave you shocked and disturbed.
Horror/Mystery – The horror in this film is built up moments, a mix of nightmares surrounding grief which can be shown in a mix of different ways. The mystery is just what is going on in the second half of the film because things get weird quickly.
Settings – Most of the important family related scenes happen in the house, that is where they are closest and issues come out, when we step away from the house, one character does have events happen to them away from the house, but otherwise the highlights happen at home.
Special Effects – The effects for the most part are strong throughout, there was however one scene that stood out badly because it looked like some form of overlay couldn’t quite be put together correctly.
Final Thoughts – This is a horror that is getting mixed opinions, I do think it is slow paced, but it is rewarding because of this pacing. This is one that will make you think and will leave you shocked by the credits.
Overall: One to think hard about.