I love a good scare, the thrill and challenge of not knowing what will happen next. In horror films, the rules of reality don’t apply, which means directors can get creative with how they tell a story. The Nun? Dumb but fun. These are the kind of films I think we need more of.
Hereditary is a different kind of scary movie. The kind that stays with you long after you’ve left the theater; the kind of movie that makes you question if someone (or something) is lingering at the end of your dark hallway in the middle of the night. Hereditary is one of the most frightening movies I’ve ever seen.
Part of what makes Hereditary good is that it’s not what it seems. When marketing for the film kicked off, it looked like Charlie (Milly Shapiro) would be the movie’s central figure. And while she is important to the plot, it’s not for the reasons you think. It’s these convincing twists that make the film more sophisticated than its counterparts.
What really anchors the film is the performance by Toni Collette. When the movie begins, her character, Annie, is introduced as an artist who makes dioramas, something she uses as a mechanism to cope with grief after her estranged mother’s passing.
Unable to understand her loss, Annie goes to a support group for bereaved, where she meets a woman named Joan (Ann Dowd), who has also experienced a death in her family. Although Joan initially seems innocent, her meeting with Annie leads to Annie’s life unraveling in a truly horrifying way.
As if the loss of Annie’s mother wasn’t enough, her daughter Charlie soon dies by decapitation, sending Annie into a spiral.
I can handle jump scares and serial killers and other horror tropes. But it’s the horror that slowly burns that I have a hard time with. As Hereditary unfolded, I could feel myself clenching the theater armrests and holding my breath. Hereditary gets into this mood and never lets up, building a bone-chilling terror that’s breathtaking to watch. And, again, Collette’s incredible performance really sells the events unfolding onscreen.
When I say I like a good scare, it’s because I know what’s happening onscreen isn’t real. But movies like Hereditary make me question whether there are demons and malevolent spirits somewhere in my apartment.
Once the climax of Hereditary arrives, your jaw will be on the floor from sheer terror. I don’t think I’ve felt so shaken up after a horror movie, making Hereditary one of the all-time greats for me. This is one horror film that really lived up to the hype.
- Release Date: June 8, 2018
- Box Office: $79 million
- Rotten Tomatoes score: 89%
- Director: Ari Aster
- Starring: Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, Ann Dowd, Gabriel Byrne