Hereditary ★★★★½

Rewatched this to prep for my second viewing of Midsommar tomorrow.

Still brilliant, I definitely stand by my initial rating. Going in I was trying to figure out whether I thought Hereditary or Midsommar was the stronger film, but coming out I realize how fundamentally different they are. Yes, they're both undeniably films made by the same person. I'm especially fascinated by their shared obsession with grief and the way grief sustains the horror of each. Also with their explorations of family, empathy, and inheritance.

What I think is distinctive about Hereditary is the depth and richness of its lore. It feels more robust as a world that we enter, less isolated from the rest of society, and such proximity breeds fear much more effectively. This one feels a lot more unified and contained as a whole. I've seen several reviews using the language of containment and openness to compare Hereditary and Midsommar, which I think is apt, though Hereditary is also playing with openness. The use of the 180° rule, the interior tracking shots, and the artificial, staged effect of the long shots together create a sense that the events unfolding in the house are exposed to view like Annie's models. There is a certain vastness in both the opening and closing shots that complicates the claustrophobia throughout. The question about whether certain actions by the characters are motivated by grief or Paimon remains decidedly open. Aster seems to be urging us to grapple with this openness.

I also think Midsommar is playing with containment despite its visually openness, but more on that after a rewatch.

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