SYN Reviews: Hereditary
Director – Ari Aster
Words by Maria Konidaris.
Passes provided by publicists.
Hereditary is the film that premiered at Sundance Film Festival this year and famously shocked audiences just enough, so that they continued to talk about it being the ‘scariest film of the year’ and earned it a reputation as a refreshingly great horror movie.
I was lured in by fabulous Australian-Hollywood export Toni Collette, playing Hereditary’s leading character, Annie; a woman who’s lost her mother but isn’t emotionally feeling a big sense of loss, judging from her blunt and emotionally barren eulogy shown partly in the trailer.
Her chillingly brilliant performance commanded my attention for the whole 127 minute horror experience!
Hereditary is actually Ari Aster’s directorial debut. The director has shared that he intended to make this film about grief and trauma as a vivid family drama-turned-nightmare, in the same nightmarish way life may feel when disaster strikes. Cinematically presented in cool undertones of blacks, blues, natural greens and earth tones, with occasional stark contrasts of warm fire, it is very safe to say the director’s intentions are fully realised in the visceral masterpiece that is Hereditary.
This is a film that does not shy away from feeling. As the complex storylines and characters unfold, you will feel surprise, intrigue, shock, despair and disgust -feelings that are not pleasant to the senses. The notable Ann Dowd, who plays Aunt Lydia in The Handmaid’s Tale, appears as an older grieving mother named Joan, who seems warm but a bit scattered and becomes a form of support for Annie throughout the film. Annie’s devotion to her family, her husband and two children is obvious from the beginning of the film. There are some relatable aspects in the way characters to experience emotions and refer to each other. It is not difficult for the audience to empathise with the confusion, fear and pain experienced by the family.
Opening with the mysteries of Annie’s mother’s character and their strained relationship, sets the audience on a journey of secrecy and suspicions regarding curses, spirits, cults and the occult and so many questions! Your intrigue will not curb fully until the last opportune moments. Yes, this is slow, old school suspense with a modern and terrifying approach.
Frantic camera work will keep you engaged but at the same time, enhance otherworldly events that take place as well as the unstable mindsets and emotional instability felt by the characters. This is a film about individuals and family falling apart. True to its form as a horror drama; Hereditary does not hold back.
Lots of classic horror cliches still parade through this modern mystery. The apocalyptic bugs in large numbers are very present. The elaborately adorned, remote house in the woods is where the family live and it indeed contains the mysterious attic and of course that’s where a frightened character, will foolishly hide at one point…These are very minimal spoilers by the way, Hereditary offers a much more hectic plot.
Lastly, the weird young child is there and introduced very early. Annie’s daughter Charlie, portrayed amazingly by young, talented Milly Shapiro, is extremely weird and easily the least relatable character. Her emotions are usually muted and her art is disturbing: she badly draws creepy portrayals of the world around her and she cuts the head of a dead pigeon off to incorporate into a doll she’s made of found objects.
If you enjoy the adrenaline of a good horror, a complex suspense plot or like me, Toni Collette, you will enjoy this film. The atmosphere of the cinema I felt was a focused one and feeling on-edge. Surprisingly there were a number of mutual awkward laughs, perhaps to hide fear and shock? This definitely applied to me. I advise that you don’t rush to preempt the plot. Or do it anyway, it will not work. There is a significant change of pace and movement in this story, the suspense is real.
Hereditary is showing in cinemas everywhere from June 7th