Film Review: Hereditary

Written by Tracy Fuller

Hereditary, the first full feature film from director Ari Aster hit theaters on June 8th. Before screenings were open to the public, it had already gained a reputation for scaring audiences beyond belief. Horror film fans are questioning how scary is Hereditary and will they be in for a treat; critics are already likening to this generation’s The Exorcist.

Eerie children, dark family secrets, dead animals, and a creepy doll’s house is a formula that will either indulge you or close your eyes. This film doesn’t come at your wits with a gentle touch. While it does manage to be subtle in many ways, it’ll stick with you through some of the visuals. This isn’t a traditional horror movie that plays on all the cinematic elements such as the musical score, color, and cheesy backstory. This film is created with an oppositional view, that could be interpreted as an intense drama film. However, Hereditary is not a horror movie that waves its hat on cheap frights either. The scenes in the film that depict on your senses and wits are not based on the expected norm methods of scaring audiences. They do come at you in ways that you will not see coming. They will play on obscenity that may leave some uncomfortable and may even lose a little sleep over.

Director Ari Aster raises some eyebrows for his debut. The writer and director asserts himself as a commanding talent right off the bat. He may not be a man with much experience, but this seems like a movie made by someone who has the ability and savvy that can only come from years of commitment to the craft. Hereditary does not exhibit itself as a debut feature in any way. Aster’s work will be watched very carefully because of this film.

And, of course, a great casting goes a long way. Hereditary has the advantage of having something interesting to explore while also boasting a fantastic cast. Gabriel Byrne (Steve) and Milly Shapiro (Charlie) merit appreciation for what they bring to the table, but there are a few remarkable performances here. For one, Alex Wolff (Peter) places himself as someone to keep your eye on. However, this movie goes to Toni Collette (Annie). This is an actress who has been doing outstanding efforts for a long time, but she’s never had the opportunity to glow like this before. Collette gives a transformative, intricate and layered execution that is as great as anything you’re likely to see this year. This film would likely have been damn solid without her, but it’s downright remarkable because of her.

Hereditary is not just a movie to see, but preferably one that should be experienced. This is not just a horror movie. It is a movie with some great acting and perfectly implemented images and moments that play on the mind. Seasoned horror fans will enjoy and appreciate the style.