• James Harvey

Film Review - Hereditary - 2018

Title: Hereditary

Format: Blu-Ray Language: English Released: 2018

Director: Ari Aster

Starring: Toni Collette, Milly Shapiro, Gabriel Byrne, Alex Wolff

Well, I finally got around to seeing this after months of ignoring it due to the hype. I got burned buying into the hype of the dull and pointless Netflix offering ‘The Haunting of the boring House on a Hill somewhere, who gives a shit, go watch paint dry’.

ANYHOW, back to Hereditary. Written and directed by Ari Aster, and featuring some serious talent in the form of Toni Collette and Gabriel Byrne, I must admit I was interested. While the first opening twenty minutes, or so, was more of a classic family drama than the ‘horror of the year’ that I was told about, something about it worked its way under my skin.

Acting wise it was amazing; sound and cinematography wise it was stunning; but there was something else keeping my interest, The Story! A long-lost art-form of film making, a story or plot, is a great way to hook your audience and keep them watching. While in all honestly not world defining, there was something on screen to make me relate to, and care about, the family. Of course, this was Aster’s trap, getting you all warm and cosy before bringing in the hounds, so to speak.

Misdirection, an art form in itself, was used with masterful effect in this film, drawing you in, making you believe you were watching one type of film and then ‘BANG’ that car scene happened! Grabbing your horrified attention and keeping it all the way to the end.

What started as a relatable family drama turned into a harrowing sequence of events that really, for me at least, makes you fear for the family. Alternating between a haunted house tale, a detective story, and an outright, in your face horror show, before switching back again, it kept me on the edge of my seat; unable or unwilling to comprehend what was going to happen to this family and who, if any, would make it to the end.

What made it work so well, apart from the amazing film making skills on show, was the family. Steve (Gabriel Byrne) was the anchor in this crazy unlucky/cursed family, a peace-broker between his emotionally broken wife, Annie (Toni Collette), his distant daughter Charlie (Milly Shapiro) and his emotionless weed smoking bum of a son, Peter (Alex Wolff). You could hook onto Steve and feel his utter confusion and hopelessness while the events of the film unfolded around him.

Yet the other members never pushed you out, none where so one way they became a stereotype or so over the top that they became unrealistic. They all, in their own way, made you relate to them. You genuinely care about the characters on screen, you can imagine that they really exist and that is the films biggest weapon, that, Ari Aster, can and does, use against you; all the way through to an unpredictable and fantastical ending.

It’s been a very long time and thousands of movies since I was made genuinely uneasy or just damn right scared by a film. I had to turn all the lights on to use the bathroom after the credits rolled for Pete’s sake! Who does that to a person?! Aster did this, not by stupid jump scares or over the top gore but by creating a believable world, populated by believable characters with a believable story and then slowly, subtly, turns it on its head before bashing it into the floor over and over until you break, like the characters on screen.

Hereditary goes onto my top ten horror list (my top ten films of all-time list, if I’m honest) without a second thought, along with films such as ‘Get Out’, ‘Mandy’ and ‘The Ritual’, to name but a few. Hereditary helps continue the revival of the once broken and laughed at horror genre, out go the gory jump scare ridden trash pulp films and in come the grown up, shit yourself scary story, horror films, once so well known and loved.

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