Hereditary (2018)

hereditary poster 2018 movie toni collette
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visual: 9/10

Original and some good scares

Seems unbalanced at points

Movie Info

Movie Name:   Hereditary

Studio:   PalmStar Media

Genre(s):   Horror

Release Date(s):  January 21, 2018 (Sundance Film Festival)/June 8, 2018 (US)

MPAA Rating:   R

hereditary toni collette cutting off head

Everyone loses their heads when demons show up!

Annie Graham (Toni Collette) has had life has been marred by sadness and death. When her estranged mother is struck down and followed by another immediate tragedy, Annie finds relief through a support group and a woman named Joan (Ann Dowd). Unfortunately, Annie has opened a gate and something might have come through that now involves her husband Steve (Gabriel Byrne), son Peter (Alex Wolff), and daughter Charlie (Milly Shapiro). The force seems unstoppable and the danger is growing. Is Annie suffering from the same mental illness that has plagued her family or is it something more sinister?

Written and directed by Ari Aster, Hereditary is a horror thriller. The movie premiered at Sundance and had a strong reviews and box-office returns upon its wide release.

I worry when I see horror movies touting “produced by” and then they name a popular movie. The producers aren’t very important to me, and it is more about the director, writers, and actors. This movie produced ties to The Witch (which I liked a lot) and had a strong cast and word of mouth…I gave Hereditary a shot. While I did enjoy the movie, I don’t know that I loved it as much as I should have. Due to the storyline in the film a ******spoiler alert****** is in effect for the rest of the review.

hereditary charlie milly shapiro decapitated head

Sorry, Charlie…

The movie starts out as a slow burn film. This is all right, and I like a lot of what the movie does…but it burns really, really slow. The story doesn’t take any path you expect (starting with the horrific death of Charlie who was being presented as the thrust of the story), but it also goes far into left field in the last twenty or so minutes when the whole cult aspect is revealed at last. In getting to the reveal, they dropped a bit too many hints (the most blatant being a very suspicious triangle drawn on the floor of the grandmother’s room which resembled witchcraft and the crocheted entry map for Ann Dowd’s character). The movie really could have been served better by cutting down some of the runtime and sticking to the slow burn style or setting up the switch to an out-and-out supernatural horror film…it doesn’t feel like a twist so much as total tonal change.

The cast is top notch. Toni Collette continues to prove that she is one of the more underrated actresses working today. She always comes off as very real and very human…her reactions and delivery fit the story and feel genuine. I also like Ann Dowd who is starting to make more of a name for herself as well (primarily as a supporting actress) and it is always good to see Gabriel Byrne. Though Alex Wolff has more scenes and has to deal with more emotion, the real scene stealer is Milly Shapiro as the out-and-out bizarre Charlie. She plays up the creep factor but the fact that she has some sort of disability also gives her character sympathy because she’s an outcast.

hereditary gabriel byrne burn human torch

Burn, Gabriel Byrne!

The movie is loaded with some nice jumps and creepy atmosphere. As much as the “big scares” are meant to have you jumping out of your seat (the sound editing with Charlie’s clicks does work), it is the more visual horrors that got me in the movie. The most terrifying moment in the movie was the lurking (naked) smiling man in the closet which officially revealed that it was bigger than a case of possession or obsession…it is a cult and the man from the funeral leering at Alex Wolff as he realizes it is nightmare inducing.

Hereditary by no means is a bad movie, and it does provoke a lot of thought in how it is structured and revealed. I also unfortunately think it is kind of unbalanced which undoes some of the good that builds up in the course of the film. Fortunately, the movie is original and unpredictable and crafts story elements of movies like The Omen and Rosemary’s Baby into something entirely new…and new is rare in Hollywood today.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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