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Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Review: Hereditary

Director: Ari Aster
Screenplay: Ari Aster
Year: 2018

What better way to start this semi-suicidal adventure that is 31 days of Halloween than with a movie that having less than a year since its release its already considered by many a horror movie classic. "Hereditary" is one of the most commented horror movies from 2018 and considered by many as the best horror movie of that year. This movie took everyone by surprise with a great story and even better acting, besides some scenes that will persist in horror cinema.

"Hereditary" starts during the funeral of the mother of Annie Graham, who is the protagonist interpreted by Toni Collette (“The Sixth Sense”). During these first scenes, we get to know the Graham family while they are going through this death. It is evident that Annie did not have the best relationship with her mother, and her family, besides Charlie, interpreted by Milly Shapiro, nobody seems to be affected by the passing. Annie herself confirms this in a conversation with her husband, interpreted by Gabriel Byrne (“Stigmata”) where she admits feeling guilty for not feeling sad. Only Charlie, who is grandma's favorite, feels sad about the loss.

The central topic of this movie is how every person has its particular path when grieving, and this topic is worked since these opening scenes. While Peter, interpreted by Alex Wolff (“Patriot’s Day”) continues his unaltered normal life, Charlie starts to act more withdrawn than usual. A little later the scene that turns around the movie takes place in the form of a fatal accident. The scene of this accident and the subsequent scenes where the news is delivered are hard to watch and made me feel very uncomfortable. These scenes are as brutal as they are emotive and the shots and acting in them are excellent, but at the same time makes it all feel too real. From this scene on another grieving process takes place, but contrary to what happened with the grandma, this time is closer to the family nucleus and felt by all.

Many of the events in “Hereditary” has as pivot grieving and the family dynamics after the loss of a close person. What makes this feeling to be transmitted effectively from the screen to the viewer is the acting. In this, “Hereditary” is, without fear of being mistaken, one of the best-acted horror movies I have seen. Wolff as the firstborn son of the marriage does an excellent job in showing his feeling of guilt and the torment that follows him, while Byrnes is equally good interpreting the father that makes all that is possible to be the support of a family that is falling to pieces. But the main praise is for Toni Collette in a simply legendary interpretation. Each gesture of her manages to transfer her feelings amplified and is impossible not to sink into the plot just by her acting. It is a shame that some awards are so reluctant to recognize the work of horror movies because this performance is worthy to be considered for best actress in 2018

While a good part of the movie is based on watching the decay of a grieving family, it also has a disturbing side. The ambiance that director Aster manages to create is impressive and always keeps the tension high and the viewer's attention. In a similar way, it feels like the disturbing factor is exponentially raised in every act alongside the tension until the third act reaches pure madness. To avoid spoiling any part I will limit myself to comment that some scenes here will leave some wanting to keep the lights on when going to sleep and will become worshiped scenes for horror movie fans. It is also worth mentioning that this movie has plenty of symbolism and that multiple viewings are necessary to catch all that is presented on screen.

What makes “Hereditary” so effective as a horror movie is that it takes the events to the family nucleus in a way that is impossible for the protagonist to escape from their destiny. Each person has a different interpretation and reaction to difficult times and this movie exploits the human vulnerability that is unleashed in these times, which are part of everyone’s life. The graphic scenes are brutal and unexpected, and the jump scares are well used and effective, and the story is captivating, one of those that stays a good time in your head.

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