Release Date: June 8th, 2018
Cast: Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, Ann Dowd
Director: Ari Aster
Writers: Ari Aster
Producers: Kevin Frakes, Lars Knudsen, Buddy Patrick
Running Time: 2 Hours, 3 Minutes
In 2012, I saw a film called Sinister. By timing standards, it's still considered a relatively new horror film, not a "classic" like The Shining, The Exorcist, Rosemary's Baby, etc. I went with my girlfriend at the time because I was trying to be the brave "man", even though I was scared shitless of horror and any kind of film that came from the genre. That night changed my life, because I became a lifelong fan of horror films, thanks to Sinister. As the years have gone by, I've learned a lot about horror films, the most important being that there are a lot of not-so-great films. You have to slog through a lot of crap to find a good one, even more to find a great one, and miles and miles of garbage before you find a masterpiece. Everyone works differently, as all depends what you find to be truly terrifying. For me, I usually come across a film that ranks in the "masterpiece" category every few years. I can say with complete honesty that Hereditary, the newest offering from production company A24 and the directorial debut from Ari Aster, is a certified masterpiece in horror film-making. It has been almost one week to the day since I've seen Hereditary, and I'm still haunted nightly by the images of...well, you'll see.
Annie Graham has just lost her mother. She's affected by the loss, but not nearly as much as you'd expect one to be after losing their own mother. Surrounded by her husband and two children, a son and daughter, she spends her days at home building miniature sets of various scenes throughout her life. It could be classified as a rather odd hobby, but we see that she is set to premiere her scenes at a prominent gallery. She's somewhat of a big deal in that world.
But even though grandma is gone, things become peculiar in the lives of the Graham family, particularly for the daughter. She's cutting the heads off of dead birds and storing them in her sweatshirt pocket, not putting down her notebook and constantly sketching faces. We see her look across the street after the bird decapitation, only to see a woman standing behind a chainlink fence outside the school, almost waving to her, like she knows her.
The beautiful thing about Hereditary is that the trailer really doesn't give anything away regarding what the film is going to be. For the first half hour, you think you know where it's going. Around the forty-five minute mark, it almost feels like a drama film rather than horror. Yet slowly but surely, it takes such a hard left turn in a direction no one could ever see coming, and the results will leave you horrified. The price of admission is worth it for just the last twenty minutes alone.
The other incredibly effective attribute of Hereditary: minimal jump scares. There are only a couple that I can remember if I think really hard, but a majority of the moments that myself and the audience-goers in my screening felt terrified came when you went into a scene with a false sense of security, and then slowly realized what was happening. The film makes great use of the darkness and lighting in the house, where a majority of the film takes place, and it truly plays off of the shadows, messing with the viewer psychologically. There's a particular scene in a bedroom that....well, I'm going to let you experience that on your own. But your skin will crawl.
Like I said, it has been almost a week since I've seen Hereditary, and I'm still haunted by it. Yet, that's the sign of a truly fantastic horror film, and one that will go down as a true masterpiece in not only horror films, but filmmaking in general. I'm going to be honest, I really want to experience this film again on Friday night, when it opens to the general public, and just watch it to feel the energy in the room and see a crowd of people experience those scares for the first time. Hereditary is a must-see, if not the must-see, horror film of the year.
Hereditary opens everywhere on Friday, June 8th. For more ticketing and showtime information, visit www.fandango.com.
This has been another Shameless Promotion.