There has been a lot of talk about Hereditary in the past few months. Most of it hype. There were plenty of stories about how it was the scariest film ever made or how a bunch of kids in Australia got traumatised after seeing the trailer when they went to the cinema to watch Peter Rabbit.
Now that the film is out those questions can be answered. Is Hereditary the scariest movie ever made? I wouldn’t go that far, but it’s definitely one of the scariest movies to come out this year. Although it’s not a film for everyone. People seem to be divided on whether they liked it or not, but personally speaking I liked it.
So What Is Hereditary?
If you’ll allow me, I’m staying mum on that. Sure, I could just finish this review with a “Go watch Hereditary” but that’s an issue I have when writing reviews of things I like. In this case I’m reluctant about discussing anything about the film. Because the trailers are deceiving, and that’s a good thing.
I’ll put it like this. Hereditary is a bit like a magic trick. Specifically that trick where someone pulls a tablecloth from a table full of stuff without breaking any of it. Except this time the person pulling the tablecloth then proceeds to flip the table onto you and beat you with it. That’s the type of movie Hereditary is.
So, you might be heading there thinking “Oh, the trailers make it so obvious.” But they don’t. Also like the other horror movies that A24 has put forward (The VVitch and It Comes At Night) Hereditary is a slow burner. And that might be one of the reasons why it’s one of those love or hate movies.
Surprise Is Necessary!
While saying Hereditary is the scariest movie ever made is a stretch, it IS scary. There’s always something unsettling going on. It’s not a haunted house movie at all but for some reason I found the house where most of the action takes place scary. There’s always something about isolated big houses that unsettles me.
It’s not just the house that’s scary anyway. The themes Hereditary deals with are scary, and framing them as a horror movie makes them even worse. And there’s always something strange going on. Even if it’s just the miniatures that Toni Collette‘s character works on or the weird toys that Milly Shapiro‘s character makes. Oh, and that tongue clucking from the trailer?
The scariest thing is that this movie makes you doubt, you’ll see things and until the very end you won’t know if they’re true or not. This is also enhanced by the fact that this movie doesn’t do the usual thing of having characters loudly saying out loud what’s going on all the time. It shows but it doesn’t tell.
Watch This During The Daytime!
The cast is great. Although Gabriel Byrne might be a bit underused, In a way he’s an audience surrogate in that he seems to always be thinking “What the fuck is going on here?!” and Alex Wolff was quite good too, in fact he was a real surprise because I wasn’t expecting anything about his character, although at times he might be a bit too hammy.
Milly Shapiro has a strong career in front of her. It’s her debut and there’s something about her stage presence that’s quite uncanny and unsettling in this film. I’m looking forward to seeing her in more things. Still, when it comes to the cast, Toni Collete is the real star here. Her performance steals the show and it’s what makes the film that impressive. With another actress it would’ve felt different.
Director and writer Ari Aster really nailed it here. After making some unsettling short films he made his debut with Hereditary and it’s a hell of a film to debut with. Especially in terms of misdirecting the audience so much. I’m looking forward to seeing what he does next.
Angry Spaniard, adoptive Irishman. Writer, reader, tea drinker and video game player/designer.