“… will certainly remain as one of the high points in A24s catalogue.”
A24 is a film distribution company that everyone on the internet loves. They specialize in the more ‘arthouse’ genre of film, giving movies wide releases that would have otherwise ended up in the annals of Netflix. I have a love/hate relationship with A24 becasue while I love some of their stuff, other stuff I find painfully pretentious and unnecessarily “deep”. The latest release from A24 is the horror film Hereditary. I’m proud to announce that it falls under the “love” category.
Hereditary is a movie that I can’t begin to summarize. In broad strokes it’s a movie about dealing with loss, and the grief that accompanies it. That’s about as in-depth I can go without sounding as though I should be admitted. One thing I can say is that not since The Witch (coincidentally another A24 production) have I been so tense for so long in a movie theatre. I’m not joking when I say that when I left the theatre after seeing Hereditary my muscles hurt. I was in a constant state of unease which translated into almost all of my muscles being tensed up for two hours. Hereditary is just one of those kinds of movies.
There isn’t much in the way of ‘jump scares’ in Hereditary, but instead we find a constant build of tension. The movie starts at zero, and slowly but surely cranks up the dial until you are on the edge of your seat and scared out of your wits. Everything in Hereditary comes together to create this amazing experience that manipulates your every emotion and makes you legitimately scared. The score keeps you on edge, the direction is inventive enough to keep out of your comfort zone, and the performances— well the performances are something that deserve their own paragraph.
There is not one performance in Hereditary that I could single out as weak. Even with a gun to my head I would be hard-pressed to do anything but praise every single person in this movie. For starters we have Milly Shapiro who, at only fifteen years old, delivered an amazing performance as Charlie. Charlie is the classic “something’s not right with this kid” character, and Shapiro knocked it out of the park. You also have Alex Wolff who starts off the film as a pretty bland, two-dimensional character, but by the end you can look back and see a steady curve finally leading to him to give an intense, very involved performance. Last but not least we have Toni Collette who played the film’s lead, Annie. Annie is very much the focus of most of the films hardships, and Toni Collette makes that abundantly clear. The range of emotions that she goes through in even a single scene is astounding. One minute in the depths of grief, the next in a blind rage, the next sobbing on the ground; it was amazing to watch. There were a few standout scenes for Toni Collette in the film, but looking back I can’t pick just one. Everything she did in Hereditary built up to create this absolutely wonderful, and terrifying, experience.
If I had to pick one flaw from my viewing of Hereditary it would be the pacing of the film. While there were many scenes that kept your tensions high, the ‘cool-down’ scenes that were setting up for another rollercoaster-like drop made me think: “Alright, but when is this ride going to be over”. The film starts off slow, and it has a very weird trajectory in terms of the story. If you would watch the first scene and the last scene, you wouldn’t be able to guess how the two connect if you were given years to work on it. And this lack of forecasting that the audience is able to do leads to a wonder of if the movie is ever going to end. Keep in mind I don’t hold this against the movie, but I felt I was leaning a little too far toward the rest of the internet with my unbridled praise.
Overall Hereditary is one of the best horror movies I have seen in theatres for quite some time. I don’t know that it will exist as a classic in horror circles, but it will certainly remain as one of the high points in A24s catalogue.
I give Hereditary an A