Every family has secrets, and no matter how long we run from them or where we try to hide, the fact is that no one can escape the truth. That is the beat within the dark heart of the cutting-edge horror film Hereditary.
The film paints a gothic portrait of the modern American family that’s almost as if everyone from The Shining was trapped in their own house together going about their everyday routine rather than isolated in some remote destination. This is horror that spikes the same vein as The Omen or Rosemary’s Baby in the sense that the story is a slow burn, creeping up on you in a haunting and dramatic cinematic crescendo of insanity.
Toni Collette goes full force as the matriarch of the family at the center of the film with a level of intensity we have NEVER seen from her before. Which is saying a lot, considering how many heartfelt moments she put into Little Miss Sunshine and that she’s certainly no stranger to horror after playing Cole’s Mom, Lynn, in The Sixth Sense. Character actor Gabriel Byrne (The Usual Suspects, Miller’s Crossing) delivers his most emotionally intimate and empathetic role as the father, Steve, since his role as the therapist in the HBO series In Treatment. Byrne is the voice of reason in this twist-filled movie who acts as the moral compass in moments of madness.
Another strong facet of the film is the incredible casting of the two lead child actors Milly Shapiro and Alex Wolff who play the children, Charlie and Peter. This is Shapiro’s breakout role and it’s impossible to deny her haunting presence in the film, which lends a looming sense of doom even to scenes she’s not in. Wolff brings a vulnerability to his character that makes you feel for him straight out of the gate, so once the horror kicks in, you see a whole other side of him.
Damn… even the trailer is pretty damn creepy!
Studio A24 continues to kill it thanks to their diversity and willingness to take a chance on original stories like Hereditary. Considering two of their biggest releases last year were the Oscar-nominated Lady Bird and The Disaster Artist, the common thread here is that they’re always releasing something FRESH, ORIGINAL, and NEW.
It’s great to see that a Hollywood studio paid attention after movies like The Witch, Get Out, and A Quiet Place made some serious bank at the box office. It turns out, audiences are eager to see horror movies that get in your head and under your skin, rather than packing themselves with pointless jump scares and gore porn that deliver shallow impacts because they don’t have a story to back it up.
At it’s chilling core, Hereditary powerfully illustrates the concept that some of our greatest fears are hiding in plain sight, and some our worst demons are inside of us, dying for a chance to reveal themselves. It’s easily one of the best movies of the year and definitely one of the best horror movies of the last decade.
Director: Ari Aster
Starring: Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne, Milly Shapiro, Alex Wolff
Release Date: June 8, 2018 (United States)
Run Time: 127 minutes