Review: Hereditary

Described as “This genereation’s ‘The Exorsist'”, ‘Hereditary’ has arrived with a lot of attention. It was actually rather surprising to be in a pretty full showing of it (but even more surrpsing it was quiet almost the whole way through!) as it isn’t your typical studio horror. And that’s a very important fact to know going in, this is a really weird film at times. But, unlike a lot of people in my screening, if you give it a chance and go with it, ‘Hereditary’ eventually pays off, it’s just a shame it takes a bit too long to get there.

The film plays its cards very close to it’s chest for the first half, but when it reveals them, you realise it had a royal flush this whole time.

‘Hereditary’ is a real slow burn of a film and to begin with this works extremely well. The film plays it’s cards very close to its chest for the first half, but when it reveals them, you realise it had a royal flush this whole time. It’s a moment full of gasps and I’m so glad the trailer doesn’t even hint at what kick starts everything. The issue is, once there’s this sudden momentum, it soon reverts back to a slow building mystery, which means the pacing feels off. It never get boring or bad, it just feels it’s always on the verge of being something truly brilliant and we only get glimpses of that breaking through.

…it just feels it’s always on the verge of being something truly brilliant and we only get glimpses of that breaking through.

While that aspect may feels like a let down, it’s refreshing to see a horror that doesn’t rely on jump scares or cliches. Ari Aster’s full feature debut is already miles ahead of the typical rubbish that comes out of this genre and relies on uncomfortable scenes that go on for longer than we’re prepared for as well as an excellent score (from Colin Stetson) that builds tension at all the right times. It may not be as scary as you’re expecting, but when it is, it’s achieved in such a way you begin to realise it’s doing it in a way unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.

It may not be as scary as you’re expecting, but when it is, it’s achieved in such a way you begin to realise it’s doing it in a way unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.

Holding everything together is the wonderful acting talents on hand. Milly Shapiro and Alex Wolff are superb as Charlie and Peter and bring a huge variety of complex moments to their characters. Ann Dowd is wonderfully mysterious as Joan and makes you feel from the offset there’s more to her than meets the eye. However, Toni Collette is stunning and steals the show. We see a lot of the film through her perspective and thanks to her almost schizophrenia actions, you’re unaware if what is happening is actually real or just Annie’s grief taking over. The film may have its issues, but the magnificent acting means you never get taken out of the film and stay fully invested in what the outcome will be.

‘Hereditary’ definatly feels like a let down due to the unanamous 5 star reviews it received, but it’s still a good film with flashes of absolute brilliance. It manages to hold your attention for the entire run time which, due to the film’s subject matter, is very impressive. It’s weird, but not wonderful and also manages to scare the pants off of you occassionally, but also leave you wanting more. I think Ari Aster is a director to keep an eye on as there’s a lot here to admire, even love, but I just wish the film maintained its momentum throughout.

7/10

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