The film itself isn’t scary and getting over that as quickly as possible allows Hereditary to showcase so much more than just being ‘the scariest film this year.’
Going in to Hereditary and believing it to be the scariest film since The Exorcist not only suggests a complete misunderstanding of the history of cinema, but displays a distinct naivety that would stop anyone from enjoying any film, ever. The film itself isn’t scary and getting over that as quickly as possible allows Hereditary to showcase so much more than just being ‘the scariest film this year.’
After her mother dies, Annie (Toni Collette) must bring together her family during a very difficult time. Yet when disaster strikes, the family dynamic is turned on its head, and not only must they stop fighting each other, they must stop fighting within themselves, for fear of losing their own sanity and life as they currently know it.
It is certainly a film that provides fear, horror, and grotesque imagery, but very little of the screen time is dedicated to actually being ‘scary’. The horror of Hereditary comes much more from its uneasy nature, its researched themes and a distinctly powerful ideology. It is without doubt a very good film, but not in the way of a crowd-pleaser, as it was perhaps originally billed.
The script is key, as it explores deep ideas around cults, family, and belonging, attempting to intertwine all manner of horrible imagery with drama and suspense. This is mainly tied together by a truly brilliant central performance from Toni Collette who, once again, proves her presence in a film of such fear can absolutely turn it on its head.
The physical effects are an absolute marvel as they bring life to Hereditary in way CGI could never. They almost add an extra dimension to the film, paving the way for its vision to have its full effect. It’s certainly a film to get thoughts whirring, but sometimes that isn’t always a huge advantage, with it needing each member of the audience to stay perfectly in tune with the story.
Hereditary’s preceding reputation won’t help it, but that’s okay, as its themes, ideas, and story more than make up for that. A lot of its imagery is very tough to watch, especially as the story grips tighter closer to the end of the picture, but really, it is the final image that will stay the longest, forcing a complete re-evaluation of the film, entirely.
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