Hereditary is the latest art-house horror picture from A24 films, one that’s being deemed the “scariest movie in decades.”
The film is written and directed by Ari Aster, and stars Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, Gabriel Byrne, and Ann Dowd.
After her mother dies, Annie (Collette) and her family begin to experience strange things. As events progress, old family secrets are revealed, and Annie learns that nothing in her life has been as it seemed.
There’s no dancing around it: this is movie is a slow burn. Barring one or two moments, most of the paranormal scary stuff doesn’t happen until its second half, and – honestly – it’s kind of a drag to get there. There’s one major moment that breaks up this monotony and adds some serious tension, and it’s a great scene. Maybe the best in the whole movie. But then everything seems to slow down again until the seance angle comes into play.
To its credit, Hereditary knows what it’s doing. First off, we need all of this family drama in order for the finale to pay off the way it does. And second, even though not a lot of “horror” stuff happens during the first half, it still feels like a horror movie. HUGE credit goes to Aster as well as his cinematographer and editors, because the tone of this film is on point. They use a slew of techniques, like long takes and quick, jarring cuts, to keep their audience on edge. The viewer is never allowed to get comfortable; you’re always a little freaked out, feeling like something is about to happen.
So Hereditary is still a really good horror movie, especially in its second half. The final act of this movie is downright horrifying in the best way. They don’t use any cheap tricks either – this is pure, genuine terror right here. It just would have been nice if the runtime was cut down a bit to make it all a little tighter.
Toni Collette brings so much emotion to her role, and in turn evokes so much of the emotion from the audience, she deserves an award. The rest of the cast brings their respective A-games as well. There’s no performance in Hereditary where you’ll just say, “they were OK.” The actors truly carry this film, even through the slow parts, and Collette leads the charge.
Hereditary is definitely a film horror fans – and film fans in general – will want to see. Though a bit long and a little slow, it’s still a terrifying ride that doesn’t sacrifice brains for cheap scares. This is a movie that requires rewatching, both for analytical purposes and so you can wrap your head around the insanity that you just watched.