Hereditary Review (2018)





The death of Annie Graham’s mother sets this creepy horror film in motion, as we follow Annie (Toni Collette) and her family through their struggles with grief and synergy as a family. Having no real way to deal with her grief and not wanting to put any more pressure on her family, she decides to open up about her upbringing and her mother during a grief support session. It’s here we find out that her upbringing was anything but normal. The majority of her family members suffered from mental illness and some even committed suicide as a result. These revelations inform the relationships between Annie and her teenage son Peter (Alex Wolff) and 13-year old daughter Charlie (Milly Shapiro). When, in a matter of months, some foreshadowed tragedy hits the family yet again, their relationships devolve even further. Even the rock of the household, Annie’s husband Steve (Gabriel Byrne), becomes visibly rattled under the pressure of keeping their family stable. Seeking more support from her group, she happens upon an older woman named Joan (Ann Dowd) who has suffered similar tragedies. They bond after seeing each other from time to time. At this point, Joan let’s Annie in on a recent occurrence that has helped her with her grief. After Annie decides to go all-in with Joan, the horrors that ensue begin to tear the family apart.


First off, I’ll just say that this is one of the better horror movies I’ve seen, and not just recently either. Not as good The Conjuring or A Quiet Place, but it’s up there in that tier. Ari Aster debuts his first feature length film here, along with Pawel Pogorzelski as his cinematographer. The pair make for very intriguing visuals throughout. Coupled with the use of sound and music, the atmosphere in this film is certainly very creepy. On the flip side, most of the movie doesn’t play as a horror movie in the traditional sense. There are several themes explored here including the way we process grief and the way we view mental illness, and each of those things is given a good enough pulpit, but because of that, there are times when the film doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be. The film is also very long for a horror film and while it didn’t bother me initially, the third act felt as if they were rushing things to get to the end. That made the first two acts seem like a waste, in a way.


Collette’s performance as Annie is one to remember. She sells her role and anchors the film. The casting throughout is pretty top notch. I did take issue with some of Wolff’s emoting, but nothing that completely took me out of the movie. From the moment the film starts, Hereditary wants you to feel a little creeped out. With every progressive scene and impactful moment only slightly creepier than the last, you don’t realize how creeped out you are until something big happens. There are several moments like that, so try to go into this one without knowing anything beforehand.