Film Feature: Hereditary
>> Like all good things, horror films have trends. In the early days of film, horror consisted of monsters like Frankenstein and Dracula. In the 1970’s, horror was men with masks and chainsaws. Slashers typically made up most of the mainstream horror movies up until the release of Paranormal Activity in 2007. Since then, the majority of mainstream horror films have focused on the paranormal and occult. Theatres are often plagued with spin-offs of successful paranormal films, like the Conjuring and its many sister films. When I first heard of Ari Asters feature debut Hereditary, I was excited to watch a spooky movie that didn’t belong in the horror universes we are all too familiar with. Not to mention, A24 typically delivers when it comes to redefining the horror genre. Their 2015 folklore horror flick The Witch—by Robert Eggers—even had Satanist flocking to theatres for its release.
While it may not be loved by Satanists, Hereditary is by far the best horror film of the year. Featuring a cast lead by Toni Collette, this film will have you cowering like a small child in your seat. Going into Hereditary, I didn’t know much about the film despite the wide amount of publicity it had been receiving. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much probably due to the lackluster horror films I had seen thus far in the year (yes, I’m talking about you, A Quiet Place). However, just a few minutes into the film I was audibly astonished by some of the technical filmmaking feats. Not only were they well done, but also these visual achievements were something I have never seen in mainstream horror films. Hereditary is successful due to Asters unique direction, which can arguably be derived from one of the innermost circles of hell. It’s refreshing—and also terrifying—to watch a horror film that delivers a completely new style of visuals and scares. When paired with an incredible performance by Toni Collette, this film is truly haunting. Collette’s performance adds an authenticity that carries this film; it would not succeed without her.
Despite the great direction and Collette’s performance, Hereditary doesn’t hit the mark on every level. At first, Hereditary begins as a very intense drama, it’s emotionally gripping and even painful at times. However, as it continues it turns into a film based around the occult. This is okay, however, the storyline is nothing new. When you break it down, it’s pretty much your basic run of the mill “we welcomed some paranormal shit into our house” situation. Like all paranormal films, some may find the scares to be slightly comical. However, there is an undeniable unease that will overcome anyone who watches this film. They also employed the use of one of the biggest horror movie tropes, and it still baffles me why they even did it (spoiler: it’s about the dog). Although Aster does a great job not holding our hands and spoon feeding us every answer to this narrative. That is until the very end when a character delivers a line that’s an in-depth plot summary for those too lazy to pay attention.
Hereditary is a great watch for any horror lover and a film that will keep the average moviegoer up at night. What it lacks in story, it makes up for in its original direction. This is a film that truly sucks you in, and very quickly. Its visuals are hypnotic; they force you to never look away, even when you most desperately want to. <<