I have now mentioned my growing love for the horror genre a few times here on my blog. Watching Hereditary has not stopped that love from blossoming, and it’s safe to say, that horror is on track of becoming a very dependable genre!
Hereditary is the directorial debut for Ari Aster, who also wrote the movie. And honestly, I’m not surprised by this fact what so ever. Because what do Get Out, A Quiet Place, and now Hereditary, all have in common? Those three are all very successful horror movies, which also stand in for being the directorial debuts for Jordan Peele, John Krasinski, and now, Ari Aster. All three have very different styles, all three deliver a type of horror that stands out, and all three movies are on top of my horror list!
Without making this post into a comparison between three movies that seem to have a lot in common, let’s dive into Hereditary. A movie that explores a very unique plot through a single family, coming in terms with a recent loss. We have Toni Collette as Annie, the mother, and Gabriel Bryne as Steve, the father. There are also two kids, Alex Wolff (not to be confused with his older brother Nat Wolff!) as Peter, and Milly Shapiro as Charlie.
When Annie’s mother dies, strange things start to happen. Suddenly another tragedy happens, and the family starts to crumble. First of all, Collette is brilliant in this! She is the kind of actress who blends into a role, and delivers on every turn. She has the biggest role in this film, and she carries Hereditary effortlessly. But, I thought Alex Wolff was just as good! There is a scene, where Wolff’s character Peter arrives home after an incident and goes to bed. An important discovery happens outside the frame, and we hear the reaction but we see only Wolff. That. Scene! Everything about it, I loved!
I was scared. I didn’t feel like a mother.
That also leads me to the whole atmosphere and direction Hereditary displays. It’s different, it’s a little off centre almost, but it works so well. There is also an unique sound design to the movie that either annoys you (as it did for my flatmate), or it frustrates you on purpose! It is like a bass type sound that actually makes you physically uncomfortable. And it works here, because it is horror, and you’re supposed to be uncomfortable.
Another big part of the appeal Hereditary has, is its story as a whole. It’s hard to describe it without spoilers, but I’d say it’s a story that delivers a lot of common elements. Tropes such as grief, and afterlife. But it also explores mythology or folklore? Honestly, I’m not even sure what it was, but it was certainly disturbing. Especially the ending, which in itself is shocking and so strange, that even weeks later, I can’t shake the questionable feeling.
So yes, the strength of Hereditary does lie in all its aspects but it’s best triumph is not being a jump scare horror film. It has a few and it also has a very light touch of humour to it, but it’s simply just disturbing. Because it mostly focuses on strong imagery. And it’s the fact that it doesn’t aim to scare us, as much as it aims to make us uncomfortable, is why it’s so good. A jump scare is a quick way to engage with the audience. We react to a jump scare, and that reaction is brief. But discomfort, delivered through a well narrated story and disturbing imagery, lasts so much longer.
Hereditary’s plot will definitely last long, and its ending will probably trouble me for quite some time. If I did have a negative comment, it would be about the movie’s pacing, which was a tad bit slow for my taste. Other than that, it’s another win for the horror genre, and another reason to love its growth and imagination.2