Ryan Rodrigues’s review published on Letterboxd:
Hereditary is simply all things unnerving and unsettling, it’s probably not for the faint hearted but also at the same time unexpectedly not too scary at all.
The film uses the classic horror setup of creepy dolls and shots from unorthodox angles, at times you are just waiting for a jump scare that wasn’t meant to be. The performances are what drives this film in such high regard because for such a simple film it had very little effects (which is not a bad thing at all). Toni Collette was fantastic as the unhinged Annie Graham, she portrays the haunted and zoned out role amazingly well, Collette was full immersed in the character and it’s a mindset that not many actors can achieve let alone portray so well in a film of a serious nature.
The film captures different forms of emotions, trauma and loss is just repeated over and over and the effects are brutal for the characters and viewers. The imagery is also quite masterful that you often see something before it would occur in the film (usually to dire consequences). However whilst masterful, there were some moments that were so gory and unsettling, the score really set the mood and though it lacked actual scares, the imagery was genuinely horrifying. The one scene on the desert highway had me pretty shocked, it was more the after shots that I was surprised to see and it was such an uncomfortable and creepy moment.
Furthermore this film captures such high regards in the horror community is through the way it is able to execute the camera work and lighting, whilst I talked about the score I think it almost had more to do with the style of music. The setting with a cabin in the woods will always get the heart pumping and eerie nature of miniature dolls quite rightfully gave the audience a sense of uneasiness. The more I think about this film, the more I regard it as a psychological horror rather than the usual tropes.
Overall, Hereditary doesn’t try to redefine a genre or do too much in trying to scare people. Most horror films focus too much on the cheap jump scares and dumb choices, which is usually fine but in this experience the lack of predictability made it so much unnerving in nature. The performances are what carry this movie beyond most similar films, from the personal character traits such as tongue clicking, to just the way the characters are presented with their hair and makeup. As the film goes on they look more and more haunted, as they were physically drain from the predicament they were in. This movie is far too clean and polished for Ari Aster’s debut which makes it all the more brilliant.