Hereditary ★★★★

You know you were her favorite, right?

Oh. Well then. Although I would not go so far as to say that Hereditary is "one of the scariest films ever made" or the frequent "The scariest film since The Exorcist.", it's still a damn good horror film. And like all damn good horror films, the devil is in the details. Dealing with grief and familial ties with supernatural entities is nothing new in the horror genre. The greatest strengths in Hereditary don't lie in what it does originally, but the spins on what it does as opposed to the films that came before it. Atmosphere and performance is key.

You've surely heard Toni Collette mentioned numerous times in discussions about the strongest performances of 2018. It's with good reason. In terms of melodrama and playing a character that eventually becomes little more than a raw nerve of emotion, Toni as Annie is almost unmatched for the year. Her dinner breakdown is the definition of an "Oscar clip" in the best way. But even beyond that, her strongest scene and perhaps the strongest scene in the entire movie comes from a confession between her and her son Peter, a character played moderately well by Alex Wolff. It all starts with a single line. I gasped when she said it, and I'm sure most audiences did too. It wasn't even the line that got the reaction out of me as much as it was the way the line was delivered. It seems like a mistake, and one that can't be taken back. Add in a nice minimal performance from Gabriel Byrne as Steve, the yang to Annie's ying, and a small but impactful performance from Milly Shapiro as young Charlie, and Hereditary showcases the strength of family in the most terrifying way. Try not to jump the next time you hear someone click their tongue.

Though I do enjoy the performances in Hereditary for what they're worth, you come to a horror flick for the feeling of dread and terror they can inflict when done properly. If I'm allowed to speak on it while not being the biggest horror guy, Hereditary is creepy as hell. Sound design is top notch, the flick rarely relying on making you jump to get a reaction out of you. Whenever jump scares are utilized, they work well. A little too well. (Again, those damn tongue clicks.) My favorite scary moments were however more so with anything that would go on in the background of dimly lit scenes. There's a shot of Peter getting out of his bed as another character floats out of his room that gave me major chills. Watching how slow and purposeful the horror in Hereditary is, all while keeping in mind that this is a directorial debut, is rather wild.

The last thing I'll touch on primarily is the ending of the film. I've heard often of people that loved this movie, but loathed the ending. I kinda don't get what all the fuss is about. I liked the ending. I thought it was earned, it all made sense, and the final shot leaves you with a distinct image to remember after your viewing. If anything, it could've cut back on some unnecessary exposition. (Gotta love when a movie has to tell you what's happening when you can figure everything out from what you're seeing.) Overall, though not the best horror flick of 2018, (Apostle would like a word.) and not even the best horror flick dealing with grief of 2018, (Mandy/Upgrade would like a word.), Hereditary shines as a prominent modern example of tension and striking imagery in horror. Alongside The Witch, it will hopefully be an inspiration for upcoming genre filmmakers. Keep bringing the scares, A24.


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