Hereditary ★★★½

An interesting story well told, as well as being an accomplished debut feature for the then 31 year old writer-director Ari Aster.
There’s some shocking twists and turns throughout, including the horrific death of what seemed to be one of the co-protagonists a third of the way into the film.
Toni Collette puts in probably the strongest performance I have seen her in as the grief stricken Annie Graham, a miniatures artist.  Milly Shapiro does well at being preturnatural with minimal dialogue throughout as Annie’s 13 year old daughter Charlie.  I wonder if Shapiro was deliberately cast in view of her having the hereditary condition cleidocranial dystosis(?).  Gabriel Byrne is the straightlaced husband Stephen, and provides an anchor in the house whilst the other family members spiral out of control.  Which brings me to Alex Wolff’s Peter, the eldest of the Graham children.  He is put through the emotional grinder, and his performance at times may be polarising but it is authentic.
Some of the best horror films are the ones with lots of long takes and tracking shots along with superb lighting, and Hereditary is no exception.  But what is particularly effective here is the minimal ambient sound and long pauses between exchanges of dialogue.  Along with a throbbing bass sound before critical moments, there’s an immersive sense of dread throughout.
I enjoyed it more on this second viewing. It doesn’t get under my skin like some other horror films, but you have to admire the vision: a series of family tragedies sets in motion a potential global doom, yet the finale feels almost cathartic in its execution.

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