Starring Toni Collette, Milly Shapiro, Gabriel Byrne, Alex Wolff
Directed by Ari Aster
Distributed by Lionsgate
By now it’s pretty much a guarantee that you’ve heard about the horror flick Hereditary, which made a lot of noise during its theatrical release. The movie terrified a good portion of filmgoers and has even been likened to experiences like The Exorcist in terms of delivering on what could only be described as sheer terror. That’s a lot to live up to, right? So, is Hereditary up for the challenge? Let’s find out.
In the film written and directed by Ari Aster, when the matriarch of the Graham family passes on, it’s up to her daughter, Annie (played with gusto by an incredible Toni Collette), to put the pieces of her life, along with the lives of her husband, Steve (Gabriel Byrne), and their children, Peter (Alex Wolff) and Charlie (Milly Shapiro), back together. Loss can be devastating, and in Hereditary it has taken more than just the usual toll on the Grahams. You see, there’s something else at play… something a damn sight darker.
The tone of Hereditary moves frequently from foreboding creepiness to outright batshit insane. In fact, the last act is comprised of moments that are sure to have you gasping in all the best possible ways. Is it as terrifying as The Exorcist? Fear is purely subjective; and while I’m sure there are some out there who will share that opinion, I for one do not. For me there’s one nagging thing about Hereditary that far too many films suffer from nowadays, and that’s a truly bloated runtime. At two hours and seven minutes, in between the meat of the film, there are moments that come off as completely superfluous in terms of moving along the plot. Some would call this “slow-burn” filmmaking. I call it bad pacing. A few trims here and there would have turned this truly solid film into the beast that spends far too much time lying in wait.
While all the performances are rock solid, I’d be remiss if I didn’t offer special praise to young Milly Shapiro as Charlie. Her portrayal of a severely troubled and misunderstood little girl is both frightening and heart-wrenching. She is white hot in the role and will likely be the cause of many shivers running down your spines. Hereditary wouldn’t be nearly as effective as it is without her.
On the special features side of the fence… there’s not a lot to write home about here. The featurette “Cursed: The True Nature of Hereditary” is your standard 20-minute making-of fare, there’s about 15 minutes of deleted scenes (given the film’s runtime there should have been more), and a cool little stills gallery that gives you a better look at the miniatures featured throughout the film. Honestly? This flick deserved better! I mean, at least a commentary track! Sheesh!
All in all, Hereditary delivers on its promise to be an undeniably unnerving experience. Some will no doubt find the ending to be of the head-scratching variety, but it so works in the context of things. When this flick is firing on all cylinders, it’s a non-stop nightmare machine. It’s just a shame that it takes so much time out of the race making too many pit stops on its way to building momentum.
- Deleted Scenes
- “Cursed: The True Nature of Hereditary” Featurette
- “Evil in Miniature” Photo Gallery