Hereditary (2018)

by The Movie Diorama

Hereditary utilises visceral imagery from generational horror classics to create a modern interpretation. This was my most anticipated of that year. Does it live up to self-obtained titles such as “this generation’s ‘The Exorcist'”? Unfortunately not. I’ve had time to ponder, and as much as I wanted to give it a perfect rating… I just couldn’t.

A family starts to become haunted following the death of their matriarchal grandmother. I’m saying nothing else, go into this knowing nothing and you’ll come out feeling confused, uneasy and breathless. This is emotional horror at its finest, substituting cheap jump scares for terrifying imagery where the dialogue and characters create the scares. Evoking themes of grief and loss, implementing them into a personal story where a motherly bond between her children is tested during a heightened state of mind.

It’s an audacious directorial debut from Aster, who manages to craft a bone-chilling drama subtly through slow camera movements and narrative tension. Toni Collette simply gives a career best performance. A scene involving an intense confrontation with her son showcases her commanding presence and emotional vulnerability. Wolff and Shapiro were also enigmatic. The cinematography was gorgeous, plenty of mentally scarring scenes and an abundance of skin crawling moments.

For me, I was not keen on certain plot aspects and do believe there were a few misdirections, particularly towards its conclusion. Considering the intense first two acts, its finale came across as uninspired as it settles for a more supernaturally basic plot, leaving you wondering “what the heck just happened?”. Keeping in mind the slow pace that these A24 horror films are known for, a 127-minute runtime was too long with certain sections experiencing dipped pacing, thus negating the built up tension. It is clear that this film is not for everyone, its arthouse aesthetic appeal will be too slow for many. However, it’s a bleak horror film that is sure to leave its own legacy.