Following the passing of her mother, Annie (Toni Collette) and her family find themselves haunted by past memories and tragedy, but soon learn that not everything is as it appears. Like a sick and twisted recreation of “A Series of Unfortunate Events”, this family is plagued by pain and utterly poor luck. I don’t want to spoil anything, but at the same time I feel like this wouldn’t be a thorough review if I didn’t share at least some of what impressed me. With that said, I must warn you there will be spoilers ahead, so read on at your own risk.
Although the majority of horror movies released this year have left a bad taste in my mouth, Hereditary stands out as one of the most visually striking and subtly tense horror movies I’ve ever seen. Everything happens at a snail’s pace, which might turn off some viewers from appreciating it, but not me. That slowness provided me with moments to catch my breath in between scenes of horrific, nightmare-inducing violence. If it had been edited any shorter, I think we would have lost some much needed character development from the story. Take “Rosemary’s Baby” for example, one of the best suspense thrillers ever made, it just wouldn’t have had the same effect if it was cut down to 90 minutes. When the story is filled with actual character development that moves the story along, you won’t find me complaining about the runtime.
The entirety of the film takes place during the mourning period of Annie’s mother passing, but that is soon interrupted by the sudden and horrific death of Annie’s daughter at the hands of Annie’s son, albeit accidental. This scene was definitely one that had me sitting on the edge of my seat in silence, especially while watching the events that took place immediately afterwards. While there are a few incredibly disgusting scenes in the movie, this one will always be stuck with me. However, the scene doesn’t feel exploitative, just raw and honest. If you’re not watching this with a group that can handle gore, then I would advise watching something else. This film may be a thriller but it is not tame. The trailers really don’t prepare you for some of these scenes.
If I had a question after seeing the movie, it would be to ask what the significance was of the recurring decapitation theme. First Annie’s daughter, then the corpse of Annie’s mother shows up with the head missing, then the whole scene with Annie floating and cutting her own head off. I understand it was disturbing and shocking to the viewer, but it was used so often that I feel like I’m missing some significant reason for it. I almost wonder if Annie and her mother did it voluntarily because of what Annie’s son did. Also, I have to admit that I found the whole “devil-worshipping cult” ending kind of a cop-out. I was expecting a more original ending, and one that would bring some finality to the story. Instead we’re just left hanging with an open-ended introduction to what I’m assuming was the end of the world.
I know it’s only October and I’ve yet to see the new “Halloween” movie coming out this month, but so far I have to give Hereditary my vote for best horror movie of 2018. I can’t think of any other horror movie from this year that’s on par with the tension and acting and suspense of this film.
This movie is…
Amazing, disgusting, terrifying.
Cheers and goodnight.