Directed by: Ari Asher | Produced by: Kevin Frakes, Lars Knudsen, Buddy Patrick | Written by: Ari Asher | Starring: Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, Ann Dowd, Gabriel Byrne | Music by: Colin Stetson | Cinematography: Pawel Pogorzelski | Edited by: Jennifer Lame, Lucian Johnston | Production Company: PalmStar Media, Finch Entertainment, Windy Hill Pictures | Distributed by: A24
Creepy yet fascinating, Hereditary contains all you need in a horror movie: gore details, slow burn horror and twisted story. The story also contains twists that you don’t talk in details because you would ruin all the surprises, or just making anyone who haven’t watched it think you are only blabbering. The movie delivers slow burn horror in its first 30 minutes, then goes stressful in the next 90 minutes. The director-slash-writer Ari Aster also keeps us wondering if the horror we’ve seen is real or only happens in the imagination of Leigh family.
Hereditary set after the death of family matriarch Ellen Leigh, who has strange relation with her daughter Annie (Toni Collette), but loves her granddaughter Charlie (Milly Shapiro). Annie is a miniature artist who has difficulties coping with her mother’s death while finish an exhibition of miniatures that appear to depict her own family’s life and Annie’s mental state. Besides the allergic-to-nut and somewhat disturbed Charlie, Annie is married to kindhearted and logic Steve (Gabriel Byrne) and having her eldest son Peter (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)‘s Alex Wolff). The family is having their own secret that they choose not to show to one another. Annie lies to her husband that she’s going to the movies when she’s really attending a grief management circle. Peter anesthetizes himself with marijuana. Charlie draws obsessively in a small notebook.
The more I watch Hereditary, the more I grateful for things that I haven’t any idea when I decide to step onto the cinema. The key itself lies on the title of the movie, and I would reveal all the surprises if I wrote the details of the story here. Like the other slow-burn horror, the story makes you care about all the characters, and the more you know about them, the more the story would hurt you. I don’t eventually like the horror that contains too many jump scares, but still Hereditary has enough images of mutilated body organs, strange behaviors due to their mental illnesses, and sound effects that seem to be happening inside your head.
However, the story would more make senses if it is made to be making sense. Hereditary, unfortunately, is ignoring all these realistic logic. If an accident occurs that results in severe injury or even someone’s death, we would expect police involvement. This makes Hereditary less believable and severe our ability to take the situation seriously. The ending also didn’t work for me, since there are no further and proper explanation on what really happens to this family and why the descendant have to bear such a “hereditary” burden that they have no idea occurs. I even need to watch several fan-made video that explain the ending.
The whole movie develop so well thanks to the actors performance. Toni Collette steals the whole movie and her stellar performance as mental troubled Annie Leigh helps to sell the movie. Her dinner table scene face-to-face with Alex Wolff is probably the best emotional scene I’ve watched so far in 2018 and that scene somehow makes us believe that there’s something unspeakable between this family. Alex Wolff and Gabriel Byrne are also solid, although the script steal their emotional ability to react even in a difficult situation. The Handmaid’s Tale‘s Ann Dowd plays Joan with her charisma as creepy as her role Aunt Lydia.
For a horror movie, this probably one of the best I’ve watched during 2018. Although the jump-scare count is low, Hereditary has the ability to hurt us in different level. The confusing end somehow leave an unpleasant feeling, although the other aspects of this movie are mostly solid and remarkable.