Biscoito18’s review published on Letterboxd:
What a wicked and sick film. I loved it!
Many people blamed a critic who said that this movie was "The Exorcist" of this generation for causing a false expectation about the real intent of the film. I agree with him. "Hereditary", in many ways, is a profound evolution of the central fear addressed by the 1973 classic: the fear of losing control of one's own body and mind. But this time, without the focus on the contortions, the rotting of the body and other horrible physical consequences of possession.
The attention of director Ari Aster in his first feature film, is in the psychological reactions of the people who are experiencing this horror. His ability to translate their trauma and panic into images is remarkable.
Also equally spectacular, it's the performance of the entire cast, especially Toni Collette and Alex Wolff, who play one of the most powerful and depressing mother-son relationships I've ever seen. The tension during their encounters is paralyzing.
This movie's construction is ingenious. The soundtrack sets an oppressive atmosphere from the first frame and the sound effects are essential to represent the "change in the air" that occurs in some moments and put the characters in a kind of bubble, separated from the rest of the world and at the mercy of the unknown.
The purest, most organic and eeriest way of transposing to the screen the feeling of impotence before a much greater force.
The director uses other simple and quite effective resources to illustrate psychological effects, such as a beam of light that travels the stage as if it were delimiting the transition to another state of mind.
The plot information is arranged organically without the characters having to go out of their way to explain something. The best example is the scene where the mother seeks a support group. Quickly, the character provides all the information of her family's past needed to assemble the puzzle.
Moreover, it isn't a complicated puzzle, nor pretentious to the point of misleading the audience to deliver an unexpected twist. On the contrary, what is proposed at the beginning is worth to the end.
I love the way the movie uses the mom's hobby not only as an intriguing visual feature but also to visually tell some aspects of the story (the miniature of the grandma breastfeeding her granddaughter) and to represent the mother's own mental state and the various phases of her mourning (as when she makes the accident's miniature).
Despite all these features and an inspired direction, the excellent performances remain the primary mean used to convey horror. The dynamics between the actors, their cries and their expressions are emphasized and they lead the film. Speaking of which, both Toni and Alex deliver some of the most gruesome cries and screams I've ever heard.
However, the film also makes a point of showing the carnage in detail. This is the most "innovative" element of the film: breaking the old concept that tension and gore are incompatible. You can have both without one canceling the other. The best example is the scene after the accident, assembled in an exemplary manner, it first delivers the horror through the screams and then shocks the audience with a diabolical image.
It's an evolution of the concepts of "Rosemary's Baby", the classic with which perhaps this film has the greatest similarity, not only in the plot:
the horror amplified by the focus on facial expressions raised to the highest degree.
"Hereditary" is a horror masterpiece. A film that values the power of acting and that looks for new and organic ways of transpose into images the horror that occurs within the minds of the characters. Extremely intelligent and built with mastery.
10/10 - MASTERPIECE