By Chic DiCiccio
There are so many fantastic moments in “Hereditary” that it demands being seen a second time. The thing about that is … you’d have to see “Hereditary” a second time and sit through one of the more haunting, thought-provoking, and terrifying films made in the last 20 years.
It may seem like exaggeration, but this movie is so disturbing that it should make you question why you’re enjoying it so much.
“Hereditary” has all the aspects of a movie that would normally be in consideration for the Best Picture Oscar. The camerawork, direction, acting, writing and score are all perfectly mixed to create a movie that locks you in from start to finish. Basically, it should not be written off simply because it is a horror flick and it moves writer-director Ari Aster (making his full-length movie debut) right onto the list of “Must See Directors.”
Aster’s script really does a number on Annie Graham (Toni Collette). Her seemingly normal family is actually a dysfunctional train wreck that was spurred on by her extremely strange mother, who we learn has died due to natural causes. Mom wasn’t a big fan of Annie, her husband, Steve (Gabriel Byrne) or their son, Peter (Alex Wolff), but she sure was into their 13-year old daughter, Charlie (Milly Shapiro).
The creeps start four minutes into “Hereditary” at Annie’s mom’s funeral and they don’t let up until about four hours after you leave the theater. Annie and her family are put through the wringer as they deal with bodies, nightmares, exhumed graves, and their overall physical and emotional breakdown.
This movie goes to places that you would never, ever expect to the point that you may take pity on the real people that created this thing and hope they came out of it mentally unscathed.
The “fifth member” of the Graham household seems like it is Colin Stetson’s score. It will wrack your nerves even out of context from the film. The low roars almost sound like creaky floorboards and give you a sense that the Grahams are constantly surrounded by unseen evil forces. So yeah, it’s creepy.
It’s hard to believe that Toni Collette remained a sane person while putting Annie on screen. There is no way there will be a more powerful performance from an actress this year and it’s now her career defining work.
She abandons all humility and delivers some brutally uncomfortable dialogue that would not have been easy to say. This could have become an extremely campy role, but Collette’s masterful work stays as grounded as it possibly can.
Collette is so dominant that it may overshadow the understated acting from Alex Wolff. He doesn’t have nearly as much to say as his mom, but he barely needs words considering how much guilt and pain is all over his face. Wolff is so effective that you’ll be rooting for him to escape this insane world.
“Hereditary” will no doubt escape from the horror niche market and have some commercial and critical success.
There are moments that will cause audiences to gasp either out of shock or disbelief that people were brave enough to go where “Hereditary” goes.
It really is as much fun as you can have while watching a movie through your fingers.
You’ll also never hear someone make a clicking sound with their tongue without wincing ever again.