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Hereditary Movie Review

Hereditary proves once again that Toni Collette is one of the most formidable actors working today. Her performance as Annie, a woman who begins to wear her buried rage and guilt on her face, is breathtaking.

First-time writer-director Ari Aster nods to the horror canon — Rosemary’s Baby, Don’t Look Now, Poltergeist — but never makes Hereditary a coy exercise in horror pastiche. This is a raw, harrowing masterpiece that should leave even the most jaded horror fans shaken.

The Story

The horror film Hereditary takes the core haunting element of a malevolent spirit and runs with it. Through a shocking twist half way through the movie, a relentlessly agonizing score, and even tiny details like the moist clucking of a tongue, Hereditary builds up a torment that never lets up for a second.

Through this, Hereditary examines several different themes including gender, familial dysfunction and the nature of evil itself. It also points out the ways in which grief can be devastating to a family.

Ari Aster, the first-time writer and director of the movie, has made a film that will surely get some awards attention next year. Toni Collette in particular is astounding as a tormented family member who tries to hide her rage behind a mask of fear. Hereditary reminds us of other vumoo movies, such as Rosemary’s Baby and Don’t Look Now, in its use of blurred lines between reality and the supernatural.

The Performances

Writer-director Ari Aster’s first feature has already garnered comparisons to horror stalwarts like The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby. And though it will certainly leave rank and file jump scare seekers wanting, Hereditary is definitely an achievement worthy of that reverent praise.

Aster tips his hat to those films and others (Don’t Look Now, Repulsion), but doesn’t make Hereditary a winking exercise in horror pastiche. Instead, he expertly blends supernatural horror with a grueling domestic drama about how grief, resentment, and trauma can rot a family from the inside out.

Toni Collette’s performance is nothing short of astounding. And while it’s easy to focus on her, don’t forget about Alex Wolff as the family’s stoner teen or Milly Shapiro as Annie’s creepy daughter Charlie, who owns some of Hereditary’s most terrifying moments. The film’s crawling dread and subtle shocks never let you feel too comfortable, making it an experience that will haunt you long after the credits roll.

The Visuals

Hereditary is a clammy domestic horror movie that’s rooted in classic films like Rosemary’s Baby and Poltergeist but doesn’t simply copy them. Director Ari Aster, for his feature directing debut, understands the value of a scare and how to sustain tension for three hours but also takes the opportunity to delve into dark omens and existential anxiety that transcend simple horror tropes.

The film opens with an intertitle referencing an obituary so from the outset, the tone is set for loss and grief. The colour scheme is a muted one so as to reflect the psychological trauma that the characters are experiencing.

Hereditary is a tense and hypnotic horror film that will leave splinters in your mind long after the credits roll. It has nightmare fodder to spare, but it also manages to get at something sophisticated about how trauma can seep into the roots of family dysfunction and be passed on. It’s an audacious box of nightmares that is a tour de force for Toni Collette and a film to be reckoned with.

The Sound

While horror movies often use shocking visuals to scare audiences, Hereditary also takes advantage of eerie sound effects. From a whimpering and moaning Peter to the click of Milly Shapiro’s tongue, these subtle sounds make this film even more unnerving.

Hereditary embodies the kind of absolute terror that makes for one of the best horror films in recent memory. It shows that true terror doesn’t come from a stalking monster or a scary entity, but rather from the trauma of human emotions.

Hereditary is a haunting and disturbing movie that lingers in your subconscious. With a heartbreaking performance by Toni Collette and an eerie score from composer Colin Stetson, this movie is sure to frighten you for days after seeing it. It is a must-see for fans of horror movies and anyone who wants to see the genre at its most artful. For those looking for jump scares, however, this may not be the movie for you.

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