The horror genre has been blessed with some really excellent offerings over the past few years. From It Comes at Night, It Follows, The Gift, A Quiet Place and to lesser extent Happy Death Day, the genre has felt more exciting and unpredictable than ever. Hereditary is the latest horror film to create a huge buzz. Is it as good as these other films? Well, A Quiet Place is my favourite film of the year, but Hereditary is pretty high on that list as well. The film is an uncomfortable, bonkers journey into the damaged minds of two incredibly compelling protagonists that got completely under my skin.
The film bears a striking resemblance to last year’s mother!, with its metaphor heavy narrative and strange performances and while I enjoyed that film, Hereditary is a far more cohesive and frightening with a crowd pleasing edge. Toni Collette gives a sensational performance that hits new heights of emotions with every scene. Her role takes as the matriarch of a family not dealing with grief in the healthiest of ways is extraordinary and wildly unpredictable. She deserves a lot of awards recognition and I wouldn’t be surprised if she wasn’t a serious contender for Best Actress at the Academy Awards next year. Alex Wolff, from his small role in Jumanji: Welcome in the Jungle is incredible as Collette’s son, and is utterly sympathetic and moving. I’m sure he is destined for greatness. Gabriel Byrne, Ann Dowd and Milly Shapiro are also brilliant and make the most of their screen-time and characters.
The cinematography of Hereditary is also superb. First time director Ari Aster creates some amazing images of horror and grief which burn themselves onto your mind. However, he also uses dark comedy to reinforce the surreal, often ridiculously horrific moments in this film which stops the film from being po-faced or humourless. The opening shot is stunning and Aster cuts deliberately, drawing out the action, causing the viewer to dread each cut. The framing of shots hide secrets and hidden horrors as few films have done since the 1970s. The omni-present soundtrack swings between haunting, surreal or truly frightening.
Overall, Hereditary is a nightmarish film which lingers in the mind long after the credits roll. The performances, direction, editing and music are all exemplary, and the plot twists and turns thrillingly. It has a slower pace and doesn’t rely on jumpscares to scare which may be a turn off for some. However, it hit me on a very primal level and has stuck in my head since.