Review by Carson Hearne
Running Time: 2 hours 7 minutes
MPAA Rating: R for horror violence, disturbing images, language, drug use and brief graphic nudity
Written by: Ari Aster
Directed by: Ari Aster
Starring: Toni Collette, Alex Woolff, Milly Shapiro, Ann Dowd, and Gabriel Byrne
In between all the basic horror movies along the lines of The Conjuring to Annabelle to The Boy to The Bye Bye Man, you can find some really unique films that could easily be seen as classics in the future such as Insidious, Sinister, It Follows, The Babadook, and even Mother! if you count that as a horror movie (Most people find it pretty horrifying). Here we have a film that is a very original and intriguing new vision in horror that I personally feel can be ranked up with the best horror films of the last decade.
After a bipolar woman’s (Toni Collette) mother dies, she still holds harsh resentment to her for her overbearing parenting. When her daughter (Milly Shapiro) begins to act extremely odd after her mother dies, she begins to wonder what was really going on between her young daughter and her mother. The hidden truth begins to unravel as time goes on, and the family falls apart as things become more supernatural.
I had to take a while to really think about what I should say about this film and even now I’m not completely sure how to put it all together into one review. There’s some very disturbing visuals and events that occur throughout the film. It’s already gotten a ton of flack for being indecisive on what type of film it is. From what I saw, I thought the director was going for an homage to classic horror films by creating a supernatural story and atmosphere that captures the essence of The Exorcist, cinematography that reminds me of Kubrick’s work, especially The Shining, and a surreal ending that seems semi-Lynchian.
I honestly think people are being way too harsh to Hereditary. Yeah, it wasn’t perfect, but at least it was an original and interesting new idea that isn’t the same film that’s been made a million times. The CGI flies are probably the worst part about this whole film, the actor’s were sitting there swatting at nothing and none of the flies around them reacted. Also, at the very end of the film, it spells everything out for the audience with this person explaining everything, in case you didn’t get it the first time, and it ruins a very sinister feeling that the film possessed in the finale leading up.
The good thing is that the acting is generally very professional and well done. Milly Shapiro makes a wonderful on screen prescence with her odd features and even odder personality. The one performance that kinda put me off was the one given by Alex Wolff who hams it up with his cries in certain scenes. I will say that in one of the most critical scenes in the film, he really stands his ground and holds up in a believable manner.
Cinematically, Hereditary is a very intelligently made horror film. They create some very interesting shots throughout (frame within a frame and upside down shots just to scrape the surface). A large portion of this film feels less like a horror film and more like a family drama. I’ve heard a lot of people call this a slow burn and say it’s very boring. I honestly didn’t think this film was slow at all, I feel that it just took it’s time to develop the story and characters, which isn’t a bad thing. All in all, don’t let what people are saying turn you away from this great horror film, it’s one of the best that I’ve seen in a long time.