The mainstream audience is not ready for the newest commercial art house horror film. HEREDITARY uses the power of subtleness to pull off one of the most terrifying viewings in recent memory. This film will not only terrify you, it will also subdue you causing you to be locked into your seat trying to figure out what the hell is going on. If there’s one thing about the up and coming director Ari Aster’s work, it’s that his art evokes an undeniable feeling of alarming shock mixed in with amazement of his artistic craft. Following Aster’s controversial yet viral 30 minute piece, THE STRANGE THINGS ABOUT THE JOHNSON’S, HEREDITARY maintains his disturbing but calculated way of filmmaking.
With the beautifully executed undertones of “something’s not right here”, the observer is taken through the Graham’s family life after the event of the grandmother’s passing. Including an Oscar worthy performance, Toni Collette plays the estranged and at times neurotic, Annie, a wife and a mother of two. Annie just wants what’s best for her family, but she lacks certain mental stability and life circumstances that keep her from maintaining a simple life. The youngest daughter Charlie, played by the captivating Milly Shapiro, was hit by her grandmother’s passing the hardest; prompting her to provide a continuous eerie presence whenever on screen. The director uses natural sounds and verbal noises to intensify the horror score. Her brother Peter, played by Alex Wolff, is a teenage stereotype that just wants to smoke weed with his friends, but is thrown in to a whirlwind of tragic events that will forever shape his life. The father Steve (Gabriel Byrne) has to be one of the most unlucky guys and the biggest victim as he is marrying into such a deeply disturbed family. Throughout, Annie gets to know more about her mother’s life, and about the meanings of the rituals she used to perform.
Jumping from scene to scene with no endgame in sight caused for an uneasy feeling to creep up for the viewers. Hardly giving you time to process what strange and unpredictable events just took place, Aster masterfully uses the technique of matching scene transitions jumping from day to night, or in conflict to safely out of harm’s way. With virtually no jump scares, HEREDITARY relies on a slow burn type of horror, with shots that follow the character’s but display alarming images in the background just out of focus.
Hereditary will make you question your own sanity, following you even after you leave the theater causing one to look a little closer at dark and ominous corners, and even their loved ones. It is one of the great horror films to premiere at Sundance film festival this year, and is another step in the right direction for modern horror films.
HEREDITARY is now in theatres.