Hereditary mixes grief with horror
Hereditary is the latest horror film from A24 Pictures to creep its way into your local cinema. First time writer & director Ari Aster brings us the tale of the Graham family, who begin to unravel when the grand matriarch of the family passes away. Toni Collete portrays the mother of family Annie, who is dealing with grief stages, as she tries to process the loss of her mother. I've always been a fan of Collete.
Her work in Hereditary should undoubtedly be in consideration come Awards season. From the emotions on Collete's face to her reactions during moments of fear, Collete kept me enthralled for the film's duration. One scene in particular (which I won't reveal here) has Collete's dialogue off-screen. The audience already knows what's happened, but the shift in Collete's voices and emotions was heart-rending hear.
Throughout the rest of the film, Collete portrays a range of emotions and almost gives an acting clinic. Future scream queens should study. In the horror genre, scream queens can often be hit or miss. It's quite a surprise that this is only Mrs. Collete's third horror film, and she comes off like a seasoned pro.
Fresh off his supporting role appearance in last year's Jumanji sequel, Alex Wolff gets his chance to shine in Hereditary. Portraying Annie's son Peter, Wolff has just about as much screen time as Collete. Throughout the film, I found myself identifying with Peter and his teen angst. While Wolff does have a scream king's makings, his dramatic scenes are what the film work. In a small supporting role, Gabriel Byrne is also decent as Annie's husband and the kid's father.
Finally, there's Milly Shapiro as daughter Charlie. Shapiro, like Byrne, has a smaller role. Still, whenever she's on-screen, I found myself either being creeped out by this phenomenal child actress or feeling sorry for her. Shapiro, without a doubt, has a future ahead of her. With his debut, Ari Aster has essentially made two films in one. Half of Hereditary is a slow-moving family drama.
The other half is the horror film the trailers advertise Hereditary as. Be fair warned, though, Hereditary isn't a traditional horror film filled with jump scares or gore. Instead, Hereditary takes its time by introducing us to the characters and slowly peeling away layers of its story so we can experience the descent into madness with them.
Cinematographer Pawel Pogotzelski creates a spooky atmosphere with his lighting choices, which go hand in hand with director Ari Aster's script. One of my favorite scares in the film involves no music, but a slow reveal that only the audience sees. Additionally, Aster's decision to utilize close up shots works as well.
Hereditary is a film that you should go into without knowing too much and zero expectations. Part of the film's strength for me was the shift it takes. I initially thought that Hereditary would be about one horror aspect. Instead, we get something entirely different. If you are a fan of slow-burn horror movies that require their audience to think, I highly recommend Hereditary.
Final Grade B