Now Showing: Hereditary

Hereditary is a movie that has been getting an incredible amount of hype. Ever since it was shown at film festivals months ago, people have been claiming that the film is one of the scariest movies ever made; making bold claims comparing it to Rosemary’s Baby or The Exorcist. This is also the latest movie from A24, producers of some of the greatest material in all genres of recent memory. They are also known for creating movies that critics and hardcore movie fans love, but almost always have a divide when it comes to the more casual movie-goers. This movie is all of the previous, just not exactly in the way you think.

Hereditary is the directorial debut of Ari Aster and it stars Toni Collette (The Sixth Sense) as Annie, Milly Shapiro as Charlie, Gabriel Byrne (The Usual Suspects) as Steve, and Alex Wolff (Patriots Day) as Peter. Annie and Steve are the fathers to Charlie and Peter. At the beginning of the movie Annie loses her mother, who was the matriarch of the Graham family. Throughout the story the film becomes more unhinged, as does the family. This is a horror film for sure, and while it is an extremely slow movie, it does so deliberately. It is painstakingly shot, slowly panning each dark corridor, the score creeping into your mind like the very thoughts this movie brings with it.

Hereditary is not for the faint of heart. It is extremely offensive, dark, and brings up emotions in people that they never want to experience. The movie does not play around. It wouldn’t be considered a gore-fest or anything, instead it’s the emotional resonance this movie has that carries the horror.

Hereditary’s strength is its amazing performances. Toni Collette deserves the Oscar for best actress in a leading role for sure. The rest of the family should not be overlooked though. While Annie’s character in a lot of ways carries the movie into brilliance, the other characters are just as interesting and nuanced - specifically, the character Peter. The character goes through things that can’t be discussed due to spoilers, but the emotional reaction he has is incredible. Charlie is a great character as well and has a lot of depth.

The cinematography and score are also incredible. There is a lot of darkness, but the movie always uses shadows in a way that almost reminded me of a more artistic version of The Conjuring, where the shadows themselves hold nightmares as well as the nightmares. They seem to reach out constantly pulling to take over the screen. When the movie gets bright though it gets bright. Fires radiate the light with imagery as haunting as the shadows. Its score is done masterfully as well using unconventional clicks and surround sound techniques that can confuse the score for the people around you at times. It creates an experience that makes you feel like you aren’t safe. Like you aren’t in control anymore and the movie is taking you somewhere you don’t want to go.

This is an incredibly confident directorial debut.  It’s not scary in a jump scare or gory way. It scares you in how it takes things that people don’t want to think about and forces you to on screen. It shows you things it shouldn’t, it makes you feel a way people shouldn’t and it creates a horror film that does exactly what horror is supposed to do. It’ll leave you horrified, deeply unsettled, and disturbed when this is over and that is why it gets a masterpiece 10/10 rating and will be incredibly hard to beat for movie of the year.


David Gifford is a college student, a sales rep for The Mountain Echo and a gaming and movie enthusiast. Check out his podcast: Reasonably Reel.