A scary movie should be more than scary. Sometimes I feel audiences would judge a scary movie by how much it took to rattle you in your seat. That’s far from a serious standard. A lot of mainstream movies of the horror genre miss the part about being an actual movie and telling an actual plot for a collection of jump scares loosely tied together. A horror movie with a slow burn might ask too much of its audience.
Director Ari Aster cleverly starts Hereditary with a family drama that begins in tragedy and descends from there. At no point does it feel like the film jumps the gun until we find ourselves trapped in a situation that slowly develops from a disturbing accident made all the more realistic by great performances. The first half is genuinely serious and rather disturbing without any supernatural occurrences. Only here and there, we are seeing seeds of where the movie is taking us, with little hope of any respite.
The story itself is stressful, putting pressure and estranging an already dysfunctional family past the point of no return. Annie Graham (Toni Collette) is the woman who lost her estranged mother and is immersed in her work of creating miniature dioramas of her own events. Charlie (Milly Shapiro) is the strange daughter that builds dolls out of inanimate objects. Peter (Alex Wolff) seems like the typical teenage son, crushing on a girl from school and getting high with his friends, but he’s got his own baggage. Finally, there’s Steve Graham (Gabriel Byrne) who seems to prefer to remain in the sidelines.
Toni Collette gives one extraordinary performance as a woman who seems to be doomed to become unhinged and has a family with a history of schizophrenia. She gives a tour-de-force as the events surrounding her and her family slowly go from gruesome to genuinely disturbing. Her descent is one of the main driving forces of the plot. First, you’ll dread her presence, then she will terrify you even more when she is not in the screen but you feel she may still be in the room.
Recommended for horror movie fans that want to experience true horror in film. I must warn you, this is not a light movie. It will keep you on your toes, it will make you invest in its characters and then lose them for good. This is not a movie for children and it will be disturbing for parents as well. There are some ludicrous moments at the end that did reminded me of classic horror films but I’d rather not make comparisons. As a horror film, it triumphs in making us dread going further but inthrall us enough that we can’t help but follow along. The experience itself is deeply disturbing but you can’t deny it is well crafted.
That will do for now.