Hereditary (2018)


Ari Aster directs Toni Collette, Alex Wolff and Gabriel Byrne in this horror about a grief stricken family being toyed with by a supernatural force.

“The scariest horror film since The Exorcist.” “Toni Collette delivers an Oscar worthy performance.” “The opening shot where a miniature doll’s house is zoomed in on and a real person enters a room is visually stunning.” The critics sure love Hereditary. It is so-so though. Beautiful to look at and with an excellent lead but only one truly rattling scare sequence. It is overlong. The threat is too vague, made by a filmmaker in love with preserving his twist rather than instilling dread in his audience. The family is unlikeable, their actions and reactions difficult to engage or sympathise with. Byrne (and I’m a big Miller’s Crossing fan) struggles with certain line readings… “What language thatBEin?” While Wolff fails to bring any heart to a character with a lot of silent heavy lifting. There is an abundance of high camp motifs that come across as goofily annoying rather than rhythmically building – the clucking, the makeshift dolls, the excessive amounts of chopping, the closing minutes of old people nudity-O-RAMA. In fact for a film with a prestigious, quality air it swerved frequently into the cartoonishly ridiculous by the end. And not in a transgressively WTF shocking way. Just daft, mood shattering, overkill. Hereditary is not terrrible but it is hard to see where the near universal 5 star push is coming from. It exists in the rich mainstream horror era of The Conjuring, Don’t Breathe, It Follows and Green Room (all brilliantly manipulative thrillrides with no pedigree that genuinely deliver) or artier but truly affecting horrors like Get Out, The Witch, The Killing of the Sacred Deer or The Neon Demon. So to hype this messy, worthy, ambitious, unsuccessful and often inaccessible film is to emphasise a disconnection between movie critics and the general public. Audiences are leaving frustrated or ridiculing the movie, I’m merely just disappointed. I think it’s fair to say with Hereditary, reviewers are suffering from a stark case of the Emperor’s New Clothes.


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