Jake’s review published on Letterboxd:
I don’t feel very well.
I’m under a lot of stress. I’m sick. My job is a bit physically demanding. I’m coming to terms with the fact that my once held artistic dreams and aspirations just aren’t going to play out just because life kinda sucks ass like that. Im staying away from twitter where all my friends are because I slowly feel like I’m turning into something else that I can only describe as ‘not me’ coupled with increased feelings of disassociation. I drink a lot. I wake up in the hopes that the day will be short so I can go back to bed quickly. I’m stress eating a lot and then starving myself for reasons I don’t really understand. I’ll be going to therapy soon so hopefully I can stop burdening people with write-ups like this. So it’s hard for me not to empathize with with Annie when she sits in the middle of that community center, pouring out her life story to a room full of other troubled people who look at her like she’s completely insane, even for their heightened standards of such labels.
Ari Aster knows how it feels to have anxiety. He knows what it is to grieve. In order to make a movie like Hereditary, he has to. There is a feeling of absolute and utter dread that permeates every single second of the film, even when it isn’t trying to scare you or show the terrifying effects that concepts like grief and depression can have on people, due in part to Colin Stetson’s warbly, fuzzed-out, bass-heavy score that makes the entire affair feel like the movie is crawling on your skin, under your sleeves, and literally trying to dig inside of you. Hereditary isn’t a horror film: it is a fucking test of psychological endurance. It poses a question:
How long can we last if we’re all doomed?
Movies that confront death are easy in their attempts to effect me, as death is one of the few assured certainties in life we all know we have to confront, something I think about an awful lot. There are things I saw in this movie that have stayed with me since I watched it opening night, and probably won’t ever leave, and the biggest compliment I can pay a horror film is that it did its job so well it makes me wish I never saw it. I feel that way about very few films, but even then, there’s nothing more terrifying than Toni Colette’s strained, grieving screams, pleading to die. Wanting to be free. Just wanting the suffering and endless amounts of harship and tragedy to be over, because even endless oblivion is better than a continuous stream of heartbreak and pain. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything capture how absolutely ruinous these feelings and concepts are, the last time I remember feeling so profoundly saddened was when I first read James O’Barr’s ‘The Crow’, a story based on the real loss of his fiancé, a story born purely from grief and anguish. It makes me confront not only these difficult concepts, but the idea of taking pain, struggle, and tragedy, and turning it into art. It’s a release. Even if I don’t want to write or create anymore, I have to, because if I don’t, it’ll stay inside me, bottling up until the unthinkable happens... and I don’t want to ponder that. It’s a drug. We HAVE to do these things, to tell stories, otherwise the grief and pain stays inside and festers into an ugly and malformed cancerous wound where the only way to heal it is to cut off whatever it grew on in the first place.
Hereditary is that wound. It’s a movie I never got to really talk about in depth because I simply couldn’t. Even after three viewings I still feel out of my depth. While it was still fresh, it was impossible. When I first saw it I had a panic attack in the theater, which still remains the only time that has ever happened to me. I have NEVER been more scared, more torn up, more undone by anything in my life than I have this. And while I should hate it, I harbor a profound respect for this because it reminds me that I am still capable of feeling like this. But even so, Hereditary seemingly implies that in the end, our suffering means something. That our sacrifice will indeed be rewarded in the end.
I really hope so.