Hereditary (2018) - USA
Reviewed by Andrew Chan (Film Critics Circle of Australia)
Billed as the scariest movie since “Exorcist” is probably an overstatement, but “Hereditary” is definitely spooky and an ordeal that is likely to send shiver down your spine and leaves he audience gasping for answers after the credit rolls. In fact, the story of a dysfunctional family caught in the middle of a tragedy works well as a separate depressing drama even without the supernatural elements. However, “Hereditary” works by staying true to the composition, build up of suspense and smashing finale of events in true shock and horror form. First time director Ari Aster excels in making the audience feel as though they are the villains watching the whole piece unfolds. It works by allowing the actors to react to different situations and set pieces thrown at them, often several happenings at the same time. The result is an effective and emotionally charged horror thriller that is genuinely scary for the entire duration and sometime after as well.
Toni Collette plays the mentally unstable mother and wife who tries desperately to protect her son from her late mother who is part of a cult that requires human sacrifices and possession of a vulnerable male body in exchange for riches. Milly Shapiro is outstanding as the creepy child and the scene where her head literally got knocked off by a pending wooden post during a car ride is pure shock and horror. Alex Wolff provides an interesting and mysterious performance as a growing teenager and does extremely convincingly in several key possession scenes. Gabriel Byrne provides the overall rock of the family and balances between trying to stay sane in face of tragedy, mental breakdowns and protection of his family. Ann Dowd makes a scene stealing small appearance as one of the cult followers and crucial to the plot-line.
All in all, “Hereditary” succeeds where many horror films failed in recent years, by being genuinely scary and ultimately leaves the audience with a lasting taste of both creepiness and curiosity of an ordeal that we may not want to go through again. The actors all play their part, but ultimately it is the strong story and twist at the end that makes the film a complete horror experience. As I am writing this review, a day after the viewing, let’s just say I am still “feeling” it. Take that as a example for what lingering horror and chills really means.
I rated it 9/10