The confident, lean and mean directorial horror debut from Ari Aster, Hereditary, sees a family turn in on itself in unimaginable ways. After the death of her mother, diorama artist Annie (Toni Collette) must try to keep her family from slowly unravelling as strange events begin to unfold and torment them.
Hereditary begins slowly, managing to keep its uneasy and occasionally downright disturbing tone, whilst intricately placing all the parts needed for a relentless and terrifying ramp up towards its final scenes. Much of the exposition is fed by the frankly brilliant Toni Collette, who gives the dark backstory of members of her family in surprisingly long monologues where the camera very rarely cuts from her deeply emotive face. As troublesome as some of the more conventional horror that this film contains is, it’s Annie’s complicated relationship with being a mother that becomes a central theme, and one that Aster refuses to let the camera look away from, even when it becomes uncomfortable to watch.
Annie’s children are cast particularly well. Milly Shapiro and Alex Wolff, playing Charlie and Peter respectively, each draw attention for their acting in the unusual situations the film puts their characters in.
Hereditary draws on the tropes of many different horror genres, which the fully engaged cast manage to help pull off without it all becoming too confusing. But while it does occasionally feel like a bit too much is happening thematically, the narrative is tight and controlled and allows a platform for some of the best horror acting in recent memory.
Hereditary is a truly disturbing take on the modern psychological horror, ratcheting up its tension in the final act to an almost unbearable point. It’s guaranteed to have audiences hurrying from the cinema as soon as the credits mercifully roll.
CAST: Toni Collette, Milly Shapiro, Alex Wolff, Ann Dowd, Gabriel Byrne
DIRECTOR: Ari Aster
WRITER: Ari Aster
SYNOPSIS: When Ellen passes away, her daughter’s family begins to unravel cryptic and increasingly terrifying secrets about their ancestry. The more they discover, the more they find themselves trying to outrun the sinister fate they seem to have inherited.