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.
What We Thought:
I don’t know if Hereditary makes a lick of sense, but I quite liked it. Toni Collette is amazing as usual, but Alex Wolff is a nice surprise. For half of the film I kept thinking I knew him as a Muslim terrorist in a movie and it dawned on me he played one of the Boston Marathon bombers in Patriots Day. After the screening a friend told me he was also the teen version of The Rock in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. He’s building a nice resume.
As for the film itself, it’s a slow burn at first and then goes completely off the rails at the end. That’s not a bad thing either. I don’t know if the ending/explanation actually makes sense, but I’m fine with it because the performances were really good and I loved the camera work.
Besides the acting, it’s that camera work that really stood out. There is a tracking shot of Toni Collette at a grief counseling meeting that is fantastic. It starts out almost from the door point of view and slowly tracks into a close up of Collette. It’s just a beautifully crafted shot. There are a lot of other great shots and direction that really pushes it into an artistic film.
I’m trying to ignore the plot of the film because there is too much that I could spoil. It opens with the death of Collette’s mother, but there is also another death that comes out of nowhere and moves the story forward. It is a bit too long which hurts it a bit. There are some scenes at the school with the son and daughter that could be cut or at least trimmed. If it came in around 100 minutes instead of over 2 hours, it would have been even better.
If you see Hereditary (which I recommend), go in knowing as little as possible. I’m not even sure if I saw a trailer before seeing the movie. Collette is one of the best actresses going and the rest of the cast is just as good. The film doesn’t rely too much on jumpscares which I appreciate. The ending is believable enough if you go back and remember some of the things characters said throughout the film. I’m not completely sure I got 100% of it, but the movie itself is such a quality flick that I’m ok with not understanding everything. If you’ve seen all the big tentpole movies at the theater, give this a chance, you should like it.
Cast & Crew:
- Toni Collette
- Alex Wolff
- Milly Shapiro
- Ann Dowd
- Gabriel Byrne
Recommended If You Like:
- A Quiet Place
- The Babadook
- Toni Collette