The Horror genre was and still is a means to make big bucks for some studios. They are relatively cheap to produce and usually bring in solid revenue. That’s why sequelitis is Horror’s greatest curse. Each decade created a franchise, promptly squeezing them for every penny. Luckily quality horror movies are on the rise. Films such as Get Out, The Witch, It Follows and now Hereditary are redefining the genre and going back to the roots of the genre by building on movies such as Psycho, Night of the Living Dead and The Exorcist. The best horror films explore social commentary, the human psyche and religion/the occult.
My interest was piqued when I saw the trailer for Hereditary, I had to see it. So last Friday I went with a friend. This review will be spoiler free, the movie deserves that.
IMDb says the following:
When the matriarch of the Graham family passes away, her daughter’s family begins to unravel cryptic and increasingly terrifying secrets about their ancestry.
The more you know about the story, the more the movie loses its magic and its power. Go in with an open mind and let the movie take you by surprise.
I think the actors do a great job, especially Toni Colette as the mother and Gabriel Byrne as the father. The former has to deal with the death of her mother, the latter tries to keep his family together in this tumultuous period of grieving. I was sucked into the story right from the beginning and I kept being invested for the whole two hours. The slow suspenseful first half is nail-biting. The second half is unnerving and sometimes unpleasant. Director Ari Aster does a wonderful job. He kept me on the edge of my seat with great storytelling.
This in part because of the great sound design. It adds a new layer to what’s happening on the screen. Sometimes it is disorienting and sometimes heavy and oppressive. It pushed me further in the chair, making me focus on what’s happening. The story doesn’t rely on cheap jumpscares, which are a pet peeve of mine. Instead the horror comes from what is slowly unfolding as time goes by. The rising tension between the family members and how that influences a person’s life.
This movie is not everybody’s cup of tea. As seen on Rotten Tomatoes, there’s a deviation between the critics and the audience. The critics’s rating is 92% while the audience’s rating is just 57%.
Hereditary is not a flashy movie and certainly not a cheap thrill. You have to be open to the story and what unfolds. I had the misfortune of an audience that didn’t fit the tone of the movie. At certain points at the end of the movie, they started laughing, completely ruining the immersive experience for me and my friend. I read the same complaint on Reddit; if you have a great audience the experience will be better.
For me the reviews are right, Hereditary is a very scary movie and a new Horror Classic. It’s a movie that left me with questions and it encouraged me to think about the story. It was unsettling but thought-provoking, it lingers in the back of your mind. Hereditary is not a movie to watch if you want a quick horror fix or if you have time to kill. You have to invest yourself and to be prepared for two hours of drama and unpleasantness.