“Hereditary” is written and directed by Ari Aster, and stars Toni Collette as Abbie Graham, an artist, wife, and mother who deals with the recent loss of her mother, Ellen. Soon after, the Graham family discover that Ellen left something behind.
It is shocking that this is the first feature film Aster ever directed. It’s level of quality is near-unseen in first-time directors. The way he manipulates the camera, lighting, and sound is done masterfully.
Toni Collette, a long-time unappreciated actress, gives a career-defining performance as Annie. The way she manipulates the atmosphere around her to generate emotion is unnerving. She uses nearly every scene in the film to show here brilliance as an actress. Something is wrong if she does not receive an Oscar nomination come winter.
One performance that surprised me was that of Alex Wolff, a rather unexperienced actor who, despite his acting background, brings forth an emotionally straining performance of a lost teen ridded with guilt. There is genuinely not a single bad performance in this film.
Props must be given to the sound designer and composer. The sound of “Hereditary” is as intriguing as it is disturbing, with the music acting as a perfect queue for audience reactions.
The cinematography is also stunning, being miles ahead of the vast majority of horror films produced nowadays.
But how is “Hereditary” as a horror film? Being honest, I’ve been waiting forever to see a horror film composed on such a masterful level at this. This, if anything, is raising the bar for the horror genre.
If you are looking for a jumpscare-riddled mess, look away, because this is a different kind of film. There is maybe one jumpscare in the entire movie, with the focus on a slow burn, and a rapid pay-off by the film’s end.
What make’s “Hereditary” stand out, however, is a combination of its long takes and lighting. The camera will sometimes focus on a subject for an abnormally long time, and as your eyes adjust to the dark screen, you’ll think you see something disturbing, but you don’t know what it is or if it’s really there. This is the mastery of “Hereditary”.
Although fantastic, “Hereditary” does have some minor issues. While the lighting is great overall, there are some scenes that are supposed to take place in the middle of the night but look like they’re taking place in the middle of the day. There’s also some issues with CGI, but this is expected for a low-budget horror film.
And I do have issues with the ending. Don’t get me wrong, it is beyond interesting and still leaves plenty of questions to be asked, but the issue is that it along with parts of the later 3rd act spoon-feed you what is happening to the family. While better than many films in general, I can’t help but feel dissatisfied, and that the filmmakers don’t have trust in the audience to think for themselves.
“Hereditary” is the horror film we’ve all been waiting for. It is shocking, disturbing, and nerve-racking, full of brilliant performances and elements of filmmaking. This is a must-see for fans of the horror genre.