Hereditary is the first directorial debut of writer, director Ari Aster and tells the story of a small family, whom, after a tragic loss are haunted by an unknown supernatural force.
I won’t delve too much into the plot because that would be going into spoiler territory, but Hereditary is one of my favorite movies of the year and one of the best horror movies I’ve seen this decade. It’s certainly better than The Witch and It Follows, two movies I liked but thought that they were overrated and was expecting to be downright terrified. I didn’t have those kinds of expectations going in this film and that was the right mindset going in. This probably won’t scare you like The Exorcist or The Shining, but it will disturb you and have you think about it long after it is over. The pure originality that Aster put into his work is mind-blowing and I haven’t quite seen a horror movie like this in a long time.
All the actors are terrific in this film. The acting is what in my opinion shines in this film. Toni Collette plays a troubled mom of two children and she is amazing in this film. She is really incredible and her performance isn’t over the top or ridiculous, which could have easily have happened because this is a horror film. You have to buy the actors in order to get into the more larger than life elements that this film delves into and the actors do a terrific job in elevating the material that they are given. I’m not sure if this movie would be as good without these excellent performances, they are all top notched and there is not one weak link in this wonderful cast.
Alex Wolff who starred in last year’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is incredible here as well and his character and Toni Collette don’t get along great in this film, so they’re characters are probably the most interesting and they’re back and forth are most of the time heartbreaking and hard to watch. Gabriel Byrne, who has always been an actor I’ve really liked ever since I saw him in Usual Suspects, is amazing as the father who is trying to hold his family together. His performance is probably the most subdued and passive throughout the film and he’s fantastic. Milly Shapiro is also really creepy as the youngest member of the Graham family and you never quite know what her deal is or why she is acting the way she does.
The film is constantly surprising and kept going in directions that I didn’t expect. Something truly shocking happened in the second act that had me almost stop breathing because of how intense and gruesome it was, it was great. The atmosphere in this film is dark and filled with dread. It’s almost as every act is a different genre and it never stops to surprise you until it’s shocking conclusion.
As for flaws, without any spoilers, the last act is a bit farfetched and the tone of the movie shifts a bit from this family drama to this supernatural/ghost possession film, which was fine and it certainly wasn’t predictable, but the ending is a bit too crazy however it makes sense after multiple viewings. At first, I wasn’t sure what to think about it, but it fits the movie better when you see it again. It’s definitely not bad but it’s something you don’t expect and when it arrived there I thought it was good just not as great as the other two acts. The film also has a lot of exposition, which is something that is needed so that we can learn more about the history of the Graham family so it’s understood.
Overall, Hereditary is a dark and disturbing family drama that offers brilliant performances, bleak atmosphere and terrifying imagery, and it will stay with you long after it is over.