Hereditary 2018 Movie Review
Have always had a lot of appreciation for horror, even though it isn’t my favourite genre, and ‘Hereditary’ was a film that immediately held my interest in seeing it with such an arresting concept. Although more polarising with audiences it was very positively received films critically, having more than once seen and heard it described as one of the year’s best.
Despite reviewing it only now, ‘Hereditary’ was another film viewed weeks ago but with so many commitments and such a big to watch and review list it’s taken a long time to get round to reviewing it. While the polarisation is understandable, count me in as another person who was really impressed by ‘Hereditary’, very nearly loving it even. Of my recent 2018 viewings, it definitely stands out as one of the better ones and it is not hard to see whether it is considered in as high regard as it is. Can also see why it has been compared to ‘The Exorcist’ and ‘The Shining’, having just as much the same amount of dread and hellish atmosphere, and also couldn’t help thinking of another slow-burn horror from this year that divided opinion but was also critically acclaimed ‘A Quiet Place’. Not in concept and they’re different films, but in that they’re polarising but mostly positively regarded and both films that were very well made, well acted and unnerving.
It is hard to know where to begin praising something with so many positives. ‘Hereditary’ is incredibly well made visually, one of the most audacious and best-looking films in the genre in recent years. The photography is both dream-like and nightmarish, while the film is slickly edited, atmospherically lit and the spacious house, with a mix of the audacious and the ghoulish, is like its own character.
The music is haunting and adds to the unnerving atmosphere as does some of the most effective sound editing and design of the year, never being obvious or cheap and providing a lot of eeriness. The writing flows well and never becomes corny or overly-wordy, sometimes even thought-provoking in particularly in what it has to say about grief and trauma.
While a deliberate slow-burn for me ‘Hereditary’ was not dull at all, helped enormously by the atmosphere and the near-perfect balance of family drama, which was often very poignant and packs a powerful emotional wallop, and horror, where there is not any over-reliance on predictable horror tropes and cheap scare tactics and actually was frightening and suspenseful. It always is interesting seeing film debuts and there are some fine ones out there, Ari Astor’s directing is remarkably well accomplished with a fine eye for detail and an adeptness for how to pace such an atmosphere.
Characterisation-wise, ‘Hereditary’ is quite compelling and there is a realism to it. The performances are near-perfect, with Gabriel Byrne occasionally slightly under-playing but generally it is one of his best performances in a while. The star here is Toni Collette in a truly marvellous and often moving turn that calls for a mix of grief and terror, Collette grieves with pathos and conveys terror with intensity. Alex Woolf is the other standout for similar reasons though Milly Shapiro is not to be neglected.
It is a shame that the ending is rushed and that plausibility loses its way at this point, instead coming over as silly and like the film had run out of steam.