Monday, June 11, 2018

Movie Review: "Hereditary" (2018)

Director: Ari Aster
Year: 2018
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours, 7 minutes

When a woman's mother passes away, it unleashes a series of tragedies for her family as she begins to unravel the mysteries of her mother's life, which continue to haunt her.
"Why are you scared of me?" (Image Source)
"Hereditary" is the feature film debut of writer/director Ari Aster and is not a movie for the faint of heart. The story centers on an artist named Annie (Toni Collette), whose mother has recently passed away. Annie was not very connected to her mom, who was very secretive and was a seemingly mentally unstable woman. Shortly after this death, Annie and her family begin to experience strange occurrences and mounting tragedies. As this all happens, Annie starts to uncover secrets from her mother's past that may explain what is happening, though it may be too late to stop what has already been set in motion.
"Annie, this is real." (Image Source)
We knew very little about "Hereditary" going into it. We hadn't seen the trailer, but it was hard to avoid and ignore the buzz surrounding it since its debut at Sundance. This is a psychological slow burn supernatural horror film with many moving parts and a lot of familiar aspects that are somehow seemingly new, thanks to writer/director Ari Aster. This is not a mass appeal type of horror movie and is not going to be for everyone, especially since there are disturbing and extremely unsettling moments in the film. Some of the things that happen here frightened us to our very core...and we do not scare easily.
"I just don't want to put any more stress on my family." (Image Source)
By far, the best part of "Hereditary" is Toni Collette, who offers up an Oscar-worthy performance as she gets to cover an entire range of emotions throughout this film. It is a character with such depth and nuance that any actor would kill to play this dream role. Collette says so much with just her face and her screams. We think it is utter bullshit that the Academy doesn't recognize horror movies as a legitimate means for good acting because out of two fantastic female performances this year, Collette's is one of them. This is not to discount the other actors in the film because they are also exceptional. Alex Wolff plays Annie's son Peter and does a spectacular job showing the strain and stress of what is going on on his face. The rest of the supporting cast, including the skeptical Gabriel Byrne, eerie newcomer Milly Shapiro, and the fanatical Ann Dowd, each get their moment to shine as well.
"Mommy, please, I'm sorry." (Image Source)
It's hard to get too deep into the story of "Hereditary" without spoiling things. This is one film you want to watch without knowing anything ahead of time. It will only serve to enhance your viewing experience. We will say there are moments in this movie that made us audibly gasp, a couple that absolutely stunned us, a few that left us shocked, others we found to be downright disturbing, and there's even one particular instance that left me in tears. It has been well-documented on this website that I am a known crier, but this was something different altogether. We found ourselves pulled into the story and the family dynamic, as well as the horror that surrounds it. Aster uses a lot of brilliant techniques to set an eerie mood and a tense, foreboding feeling of dread. Aiding to build said tension is killer sound editing and Colin Stetson's immaculate score that are both ominous, nerve-wracking, and will send your heart pumping and unsettle you further. The cinematography, the lighting, everything about it adds to the overall atmosphere. We love that Ari Aster doesn't go for cheap and easy scares here, keeping the loud, startling moments to a minimum. Instead, he opts for more subtle things that creep in the shadows and in the background which are sometimes so subtle they may go unnoticed. That being said, he also doesn't shy away from graphically disturbing imagery either. For fans of slow-burn horror like "The Omen" or "Rosemary's Baby," "Hereditary" may be up your alley. 

My Rating: 9.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 9.5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~8.0/10
RT Rating: ~93%
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES!!!

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