Hereditary Delivers Fresh Look at Intelligent Horror


Hereditary promo poster 2018

Abigail Quinn, Contributor

“Hereditary,” a 2018 R-rated movie, despite receiving many awards and high ratings, is greatly overlooked by horror film fans because of its genre-breaking content and occasional wonky cinematography.

“Hereditary” opens with the recent death of the matriarch of the Graham family. After the reclusive grandmothers death, a shadow lingers over the family, especially the teenage granddaughter, Charlie, played by Millie Shapiro.

Surrounded by grief, the family is initially unaware of the increasingly horrific and cryptic events unfolding around them. What once was a trial of the bonds of family becomes a struggle to outrun the mounting danger they inherited.

Coming seemingly out of left field, filmmaker Ari Aster released his first hit horror movie, which also came studded with breakout roles of many of the main actors and actresses in the movie. Aster was heavily praised by filmmakers and critically acclaimed by the industry for creating a movie that became an A24 highest grossing picture for worldwide audiences.

A24, the entertainment company known for bringing the movie-watching masses the edgy and bold films they craved, dropped ten million in the making of “Hereditary” and raked in a whopping 79.3 million worldwide gross, making eight million in its opening weekend in the United States despite its dismaying D+ on popular review site, Cinemascore.

“Hereditary,” headlined by wonderfully complex and layered performance by main actress Toni Collette, playing the role of Annie Graham, is a 127-minute long look into grief, and even with its agonizing slow pace, manages to connect with the audience not with terror, but rather with shared empathy.

The visuals and lighting help cast an eerie scene of a cold impending winter that perfectly mimics the emotions of the characters. Every actor and actress plays a pivotal role in making the family unit feel just that: a unit, even though the father role, played by Gabriel Byrne, seems distant and even awkward at times.

Unfortunately for the audience, the $10 million budget seemed to only cover partially what it takes to make a horror film at the caliber at which it is praised. At multiple points in the movie, focus relies heavily on wonky CGI that leaves a sour taste in the viewers mouth and would even coax a laugh if the preceding scenes were not so tense.

And yet, it is not lighting nor the skilled actors and actresses that keep people re-watching the film. The reason lies in the very end when all the puzzle pieces click into place, leaving viewers asking, “What?” The ending is so unexpected and so uncharacteristic of the rest of the movie that it requires a rewatch of the whole film to grasp the concept.

In the end, “Hereditary” hooks watchers in and leaves them feeling hungry for more. The fact that the last puzzle piece the movie has been building to doesn’t click until the very end is part of what gives the movie its special quality. It’s a feeling the audience should savor because very few movies present intelligent horror quite like this one.

This movie is recommended to anyone who is looking for a chilling and unsettling movie about the process of grief and is a fan of intelligent horror and genre breaking themes.