Hereditary Review

Hereditary - International French Poster

Horror fans have been lucky enough to now live in the golden age of horror films. With horror maestros like James Wan, Guillermo del Toro, David F. Sandberg, and M. Night Shyamalan have proven that horror films can be blockbusters too. But out of Sundance came a little horror film with a lot of buzz around it. Is Hereditary worthy of the buzz or is it another film that is overhyped like Veronica?

Let’s get this out of the way, the hype is real. Hereditary is easily the scariest and most disturbing film of recent memory. Sure, we’ve got a treasure trove of good horror films recently but this film will leave an impression on you long after.

Hereditary follows Annie Graham, who is struggling to cope with the death of her mother. Unfortunately, her death creates a domino effect which unravels some terrifying secrets about their family.

Hereditary - Milly Shapiro, Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne, and Alex Wolff

Hereditary throws a lot of creepy sights and sounds your way which will mess with you psychologically. Ari Aster’s use of natural lighting and darkness plays with your eyes a little bit. There were several times where one might think that something’s there. Thankfully, most of the time it’s your imagination running wild but there are times when your eyes did see something.

Not to mention, the cinematography is so beautiful that it’s almost unsettling to see something so beautiful be so horrifying. Aster also uses the Wes Anderson style of centering things on the screen. Which is beautiful in its own right.

Although the sights may play tricks on your mind, Hereditary‘s sound design will definitely mess with it even more. The sound effects will come at you from all directions and might make you look around you at some point. In addition, the film’s sound design will definitely amplify some of Hereditary’s more overwhelming moments. Now all of these things can be said about almost every horror movie but Hereditary does it so effectively well.

Yet it’s not the tricks on the eyes, there’s a psychological aspect to the film too. Aster effectively showcases the breakdown of a mother in mourning. It’s tragic and also unnerving to see what some mothers would do to see their child again.

Hereditary - Milly Shapiro and Toni Collette

All of this couldn’t be possible if it weren’t for Toni Collette’s fantastic performance. It’s a bit of a multi-layered performance. You won’t know if she’s good or evil because she plays it off so well. But she’s so vulnerable that you can’t help but sympathize with her. In addition, she gives such an unsettling performance as she mentally breaks down. To be honest, it’s the kind of an Oscar-worthy performance. Though time will tell if the Academy will vote for her or downvote her for being in a horror film.

Alex Wolff also does a fine job in the film as well. Like Collette, he’s able to capably show his mental breakdown. The only difference is that he doesn’t show the same vigor or emotion as Collette. Yet he does hold his own in the film.

Unfortunately, Gabriel Byrne isn’t given much to do here. He is, however, the most normal character in the film. Everyone seems to believe in the unnatural but he’s the only skeptic in this family. As a result, he gives a one-note performance as the caring patriarch.

Overall, Hereditary is one scary, terrifying, and horrifying film. The terrific performances by the cast plus the disturbing subject matter only amplify the scary visuals and sound design. Not to mention, at the end of the film, you’ll probably have the need to bathe in holy water and go to church. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Rating: 5/5 atoms

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