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. Making his feature debut, writer-director Ari Aster unleashes a nightmare vision of a domestic breakdown that exhibits the craft and precision of a nascent auteur, transforming a familial tragedy into something ominous and deeply disquieting, and pushing the horror movie into chilling new terrain with its shattering portrait of heritage gone to hell.
From the very start of this movie, I began feeling uncomfortable for some reason, something that just didn’t feel right, something seemed out of place, and the worse part was, I simply could not figure out what it was. Not only that but there was an overwhelming amount of dread that started building up inside me. Although this is usually what makes or breaks a movie for me, especially a horror movie, it still bugged me throughout the entire film. I suppose I have no other choice but to watch it again just to see if I can recapture that odd feeling once more, or better yet, discover the mystery of what it was that had made me feel this way.
I’ll start off by saying I’m a huge, major fan of the horror genre. So much in fact that it’s about the only thing I ever watch and has been my entire life. I’ve seen an unreasonable number of horror films, The Shining, The Exorcist, The Omen, The Haunting, just to name a few, and I adore getting the pants scared off me, and I can usually shake off the more terrifying ones within a few hours at the most, but not this one. This movie has stayed in my head for over a week now and I just can’t seem to shake it off. I cannot stop seeing certain scenes replaying over and over in my head. I cannot forget the horrific image when Annie was bashing her face against the ceiling (yes, the ceiling), over and over. Or that look of terror all over Peter’s face when he realized he just killed his little sister in one of the most violent and unexpected ways I’ve ever seen or that heart-stopping face that Annie made a few times when it seemed she went into shock. These are the main things I just want to NOT remember anymore.
As I said, I was deeply unsettled for the rest of the week and needed time to process everything my mind has seen. There’s a lot to grasp in this movie, something is constantly happening to one of the family members, and I’m still trying to wrap my brain around the majority of it, but in general, I left the theater completely disturbed which is a much harder feeling to shake than simply getting scared for two hours straight. There’s just something about watching a situation hopelessly fall apart that hits close to home for me, and enough of the film was rooted in reality for it to get to me in ways that I just could not imagine.
As far as the flow of the movie goes, Annie Graham does not seem very sad when her mother dies. We learn that they have always had a rough relationship and became estranged before she succumbed to dementia and other ailments. While at her funeral we see a surprising amount of strangers attend along with Annie’s daughter Charlie, her son Peter, and her husband Steve. They all seem to go on with their lives while Annie feels unresolved about her chaotic childhood rife with family deaths and mental illness. Then, the family experiences a new tragedy that begins the unraveling of their lives.
Where ‘The Exorcist’ scarred me as a kid, ‘Hereditary’ scarred me as an adult. The movie is incredibly well crafted, and the director did a fantastic job. Everything was perfect, from the professional camera work, those wide shots were amazing, down to the house itself. I loved that big old house, which seemed way too big for a family of only four, but I think this is what created that huge sense of isolation for me. It’s also out in the middle of nowhere, taking place in one location where every horrible thing happened only at night. Hereditary won’t be for everyone, however, because if you rely on jump scares that cause you to jump out of your seat every 15 to 20 minutes, then you’re probably going to be very disappointed. This one is real, deep down, under-your-skin freaky as hell, and the slower pace of this film is even more terrifying. So far, Hereditary is my new favorite horror movie and I’ll be recommending it to everyone!
Release Date: June 8, 2018
Runtime: 2 hours, 7 minutes
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Drama
Studio: Lionsgate Films
Starring: Toni Collette, Milly Shapiro, Gabriel Byrne, Alex Wolff
MPAA Rated: R
Directors: Ari Aster
Reviewed by: Kathryn Price
Our Rating: 4.4 /5
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