Hereditary ★★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

I don’t know how I managed to avoid Hereditary spoilers for the inordinate length of time it’s taken me to get around to watching it – but thankfully I did because this movie keeps you guessing just what kind of a story you are seeing unfold until well into the final act. That experience of watching it for the first time will never be able to be replicated.

Seemingly along with the overwhelming majority, I thought this was a mightily impressive horror movie. Not necessarily what I would call genuinely frightening, but I would say it’s genuinely horrifying – a slight but important difference in my mind. This movie is deadly serious in tone, and the shit it takes its characters through – it’s pretty grueling stuff.

But it works because it’s so intriguing and so atmospheric. The sense of dread is palpable, and Ari Aster never lets the audience off the hook – driving deep, deep down into our primal fears – only in the final reveal to show us that things are even worse than we probably imagined.

There’s something very hard to pinpoint here which drives that awesome tension. Maybe it’s the little details. One thing that stuck in my mind was the details of how these occultists were motivated. The picture of “The Conjuror” sitting on a pile of gold, the photos of Annie’s mum being showered with gold coins by her fellow fanatics. It’s just so banal – that she would deliberately choose to do this to her family for money??? I loved that dissonance, because it just made things so much worse somehow.

Aster’s mastery of the cinematic form is a little shocking given this is his debut effort. The acting is absolutely top-notch from all but Toni Collette is nothing short of spectacular. I’ve totally given up on the Oscars anyway, but did she even get a nomination for this?

There are images in this film which are still haunting me. It’s a hard film to “love” exactly, but I admire the hell out of it.

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