"Peter, I expel you!.."

Had to revisit Aster's first film after watching Midsommar recently. Watching Hereditary now for the third time has solidified its status as a masterpiece in my eyes. Every time I've sat down to watch it I have come away marveling at all its little intricacies. And, most important of all, I find myself deeply moved by the film every time. I still find myself jumping at the scares, despite knowing exactly when they occur. I still feel a deep sense of dread in the pit of my stomach before certain scenes. And I am still disturbed by the masterful, relentless final act. It is not often that a movie has this effect on me even once, let alone after multiple viewings.

Like most great horror films, Hereditary isn't "really" about the spooky stuff. Sure, there are plenty of creepy cult members and flying Toni Collette's to go around, but at the end of the day the supernatural elements are here to accentuate the true, concrete issues of the film. Aster explores a ton of themes in this movie, certainly too many to cover in one review. But one theme that I especially liked revolved around the fucked-up dynamics of family trauma. Even before the ghosts and ghoulies come out, dysfunction has deeply embedded itself within Annie's family. Every family has something they never speak of, an event that is never referred to by name, that acts as the proverbial elephant in the room, looming over every interaction. Annie's family is no different, and as we learn, most of her family's secrets seem to emanate from her. We learn late in the film that Annie at one point, in a supposed state of sleepwalking, tried to set her kids on fire. Even later still, Annie reveals that she initially tried to abort her son Peter. These revelations are important, as they show that even before all the shit goes down, Annie and her family harbored some deep, dark secrets. Her mother's death, and then eventually Charlie's, lays bare the the traumatic underpinnings of Annie's life. Annie is broken by grief, and surrounded by a family that she may not even want. How can she rely on them for support when, in the past, she implicitly rejected them, stopping just short of setting most of them on fire? On top of her grief, then, is an intense guilt, guilt resulting from her rejection of motherhood. Annie gives voice to this guilt in her first meeting with the grief counseling group, where she says she feels "blamed." In truth, I believer she blames herself, and that this self-loathing underpins the whole movie.

I could go on, but there has been plenty of ilk spilled about this film already. The last thing I will say is that the last act of this movie thrills me to no end. I literally get giddy with anticipation when I see that it is finally time for the shit to hit the fan and for things to get weird as hell. I know for some people the final act was a letdown, that it didn't provide a satisfying conclusion. I am of the opposite opinion. Other than a few minutes at the very end, which i think could easily be cut, I love every second of the final act. It is pure, relentless horror, what I imagine a thrasher metal record would feel like if it was translated into film. It caps off what is to me an expertly crafted movie, the culmination of a ferocious march of dread. I am a total hog for this shit.

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