Hereditary is a suspenseful horror that explores not only deep grief and family tensions, but what can be passed down from previous generations and the fate it can hold for those unlucky enough to inherit it.
After the death of her secretive and controlling mother, Annie Graham (a successful miniature house artist) struggles to process her grief (or lack there-of) due to their strained, life-long relationship. Instead, her youngest child, the socially-inept and solitary Charlie, who obsessively scribbles ominous portraits of those around her and makes un-settling tongue clicks, seems to be struggling with the death the most. As time goes by, and a horrific accident occurs, the Graham’s family situation begins to snowball into an emotional and somewhat supernatural nightmare, one in which there seems to be no waking up from.
Hereditary is like a slow walk down a poorly-lit path on a dark night; you don’t know if the darkness around you is vacant and harmless, or if, in reality, there are threats lurking in the shadows. Through the film’s eerie cinematography, ominous and brooding soundtrack and purposefully slow-paced scenes, it gradually builds a level of tense and unnerving suspense, as well as a lingering sense of dread that things just aren’t going to end well for the Graham family.
It’s not surprising that the producers and film company (A24) of Hereditary were also behind the 2016 horror hit, The Witch – one of the most lionised films within the horror genre in the past few years (and with good reason). Both films are successful because they provide a layer underneath the usual level of fear and suspense, delving into the ideas of hysteria, uncertainty and sanity that rule the lives of the film’s traumatised characters.
Toni Collette is unsurprisingly an emotional powerhouse on screen as Annie, a mother who is struggling to retain some form of control, alongside her own sanity, while her family disintegrates around her. This is one of Collette’s best performances, giving a depth and believability to her character that not many others would be able to achieve.
Milly Shapiro is fantastic as Annie’s daughter, Charlie, whose presence on-screen is constantly unnerving and it would have been great to have seen more of her in the film. Alex Wolff, who plays Charlie’s pot-smoking brother Peter, grows throughout the course of the film to give an outstanding performance as a combative son, guilt-ridden brother and desire-driven teenage boy. Wolff’s performance is so totally enthralling that he gives Collette a run for her money as the stand-out performance within the film.
Hereditary is the must-see horror hit of 2018 which leaves its audience in shock, disturbed uncertainty and muscle-clenching tension, but that’s what we want from a good horror film, is it not?
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