HEREDITARY is the most deeply disturbing and unsettling film I have seen in my almost 32 years on planet Earth. It’s one of the few horror pieces to make me want to watch it again so I can catch all the clues from the beginning of the story that lead to revelations at the end, but then again I don’t want to watch it again because of the disturbing images, themes, sequences, and other shit that is probably going to give me nightmares for some time to come (I had a nightmare last night). It is also one of the few horror films that I went and did research on to find out if some of the lores and myths presented in the film were actually true (and they are, which makes the movie even grander considering it isn’t a whole bunch of fucking jibberish). This isn’t a “jump scare” kind of film. Those films are reserved for kids in their teens and very early 20’s that don’t know any better and wouldn’t know a good horror film if it were to completely shove itself up their ignorant asses. This film is a slow burn type horror. It is extremely complex and intricate. There are throwaway lines of dialogue you think are just things written to pass the time but end up becoming very important at the very end of the film. The film kept me guessing. I truly want to see it again, it is one of the horror masterpieces not just of our generation, but of all time, ranking with the greats. This film is the one to disturb me the most since I watch the original The Omen when I was a kid, and trust me, I don’t scare fucking easily.
Like I warned you, the film is a slow burn, but even with that slow burn, the acting and atmosphere keeps things interesting. Then about, 25-30 minutes into the 2 hour adventure, something utterly fucking shocking and disturbing happens that I didn’t see coming. That one sequence and a little bit after that kept me engaged with the film and I was haunted by thinking what would happen next. And all the trailers and tv spots have done a good job hiding all the secrets and surprises from everyone, even what the film in the end is truly about. The director, Ari Aster, I can’t believe this is his first feature length film (he has done some shorts in the past). His direction here is almost top notch perfect, and I can’t wait to see what we get from him in the future. Oh, I forgot to mention he wrote this thing solo as well. Hopefully he is as consistent or gets even better from here and doesn’t go the way of M. Night Shaymalan.
I really don’t want to tell you anything about this movie, but if I can just do one sentence, it won’t give away a thing: A middle aged mother has just buried her old mother who she didn’t really care for and the rest of her family of four, including her strange looking young 13 year old daughter, deals with the aftermath. Hopefully I didn’t give anyway away, I don’t think I did. Like I said, the movie does a great job of spreading tiny tiny clues throughout the film where you don’t know what it is truly about I’d say until the last 5 to 10 minutes. I thought that was brilliant. A movie that shows their cards within the first 15 minutes of its run time, especially a horror movie, is always doomed to failure in my opinion. Even a short 85 minute film. But this is a grueling, treacherous 2 hours, but in a good way. I guess. I know I’m building up this movie a lot with praise, but do I really ever want to watch it again? My movie brain says absolutely yes, but my sanity says absolutely not.
Toni Collette, and I’m basically copying other critics when I say this, gives the performance of her career. She’s always great in anything she does honestly, especially a show called The United States of Tara, but here she is completely, mesmerizingly good. It’s definitely her best big screen performance since her great supporting turn in The Sixth Sense. All the actors are great in this. Alex Wolff, who you might know as playing one of the Boston Marathon bombers in the movie Patriot’s Day, out acts his more famous brother, Nat Wolff here. His facial expressions in this are buried deep within are mind. The girl that plays the young 13 year old daughter, Milly Shapiro, is so good she’s disturbing as fuck here too. And Gabriel Byrne does a fantastic job as the low key father that just wants what is best for his family and tries to keep everything and everyone sane.
So that’s it. That’s all I’m going to say. Go see this film if you love and cherish horror films. It is not to be missed. It is being praised as high as It Comes At Night and The Witch, both of which I didn’t care for all that much. I guess critically third praise is the charm? I was thinking of it as I left the theater and it was still embedded in my mind when I got home. I eveb had a nightmare last night with some of it. And the more I research about the film, it gets even better and has me want to brave through a second viewing, just so I can catch all the little hints and clues throughout every scene, shot, and line of dialogue. Don’t spoil yourself with this film, you might not regard it as highly if you know what is coming. But then again, I’m not you. It’s the most unsettling film I have ever seen. Don’t see this film if you don’t like being disturbed. This film isn’t for the faint of heart or for scaredy-cats. You just have to ask yourself one question. Are you brave enough?