Hereditary is the new standard in horror. It is the scariest film since anything that you've ever seen...ever and it will scare the literal fuck out of your pants.
But...you see how hype can build...right? Hype is such a tricky thing...especially with this cowboy right here. Because...whenever I see something that I really love...I tend to yell from the mountain tops how amazing it was. Sometimes...the masses line up with my particular tastes. Often...they do not. This is precisely the reason as to why Film Deviant exists in the first place. So that I have somewhere to write down my thoughts on films. But, still...people get hyped up all the time over things that are, at face value, alright. Nothing mind-blowing...just ok. Take the latest hip hop battle war, for example. MGK came out and rang the bell on Eminem with his "Rap Devil", thinking it was a great idea. I guess he never saw John Wick. Well...Eminem just came out with his own retort titled "KillShot"...which was...ok. I mean...the MGK song was mediocre to begin with...so Eminem's was on that level...but, he's Eminem...so, of course people are gonna go buckwild over his reply. Will this go down in the hip hop hall of fame some time down the road? Probably not. There are some really stellar rap battles out there that put this one to shame. But, Eminem's built himself a huge following...and he's the one with the Academy Award and the goodwill....so, people are gonna look at this MGK dude like..."who the fuck is this guy??" But...if you listen to "KillShot"...it's not bad. It's pretty good. Just not one of Eminem's better efforts. The way they were building this up...one would swear that this was gonna be the ULTIMATE RAP BATTLE RESPONSE. It wasn't...but...it was still waaaay better than MGK's "Rap Devil"...or whatever the fuck.
Geez. I kinda went on a little rant about the state of hip hop battles there...didn't I? Probably lost 2 out of the 5 people that read my stuff. Oh well. I went into that rant to properly illustrate how hype can kill the expectations of anything. Did hype play a part in derailing my enjoyment of Hereditary? I would say...no, it did not. I found it to be quite good. Quite...quite good. As a matter of fact...I would list it as one of my very favorites of this year. It was that good for me. Was it the next coming of modern horror cinema? I don't fucking know anymore, man. I'm just here to tell you that I liked the fuck out of Hereditary. I have this one friend who I recommended this movie called The Killing of a Sacred Deer...and she thought the film stunk worse than Bigfoot's dick ...and so, I---huh? What's that? I already mentioned that in the last review?? Hmm. Ok. I didn't mention Bigfoot's dick, tho...right? See...that was kinda funny. I find that when you add Bigfoot's dick to any conversation...it inspires hilarity. But...yeah...I guess I did mention that other stuff in my last review. So...thanks for the heads up, homie! You're the best!
Sorry, guys...the voices in my head just informed me that I already mentioned that one little bit about my friend hating that Killing of a Sacred Deer movie. So...I"m just gonna move on from that.
Jesus. Why do you guys still read my stuff??
Anyway...Hereditary, guys! The film opens on the wake of Annie Graham's mother. Annie Graham being played by the otherworldly amazing Toni Collette. She is one of my very favorites working in film today. She is one of those performers who can go from emotionally broken to "I will fucking murder your face" in no time flat. The array of emotions that she displays in this film is unparalleled by any other actor I've seen this year. Except maybe the Han Solo movie. Just kidding. She's 5 hyper jumps better than anyone in that film...and I found Solo to be quite fun. Here...she plays the emotionally unhinged Annie. Her mom just passed away...as we find out while Annie is reading the eulogy. It is a rather dour starting point...and the viewer is left thinking that there's only one place to go from here. Up. Not so...which I feel is such a brilliant decision, as the story and events sort of unravel and become something so much more. I'm trying not to spoil it here...because there is just so much to explore in a film like this.
We are then introduced to the rest of Annie's family. Alex Wolff, whom you may remember from Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, here...playing her son, Peter. He is rather impressive as the distant son...so far removed from the family...he barely notices his sister during a pivotal scene when he brings her to a party. His sister, Charlie...is played by Milly Shapiro, who brings a distinct presence to the story. I kinda wish that the marketing didn't focus on her striking appearance so much...because her role is so understated and serves as a sort of catalyst to what eventually goes down. I feel like Milly is so much more than just a horror movie trope. Gabriel Byrne plays Annie's husband, Steve. He's a sort of reluctant passenger in the story. Grant it...the character's profession is that of a psychiatrist, or whatnot...but, he is more of the observer here...and never really buys what Annie is desperately trying to sell him. The final crucial piece of the casting shows up later on in the film as Joan, played by Ann Dowd. I won't reveal to much about her...but, will only say that I knew who she was...the fucking moment she introduced herself to Annie. Ultimately, I kinda knew where the story was going...once I saw the one dude smiling at the beginning of the film during the wake scene. It's a scene meant to unnerve the viewer...and as a seasoned horror fan I'm usually pretty keen on obvious details like that scene. I just didn't realize the complexity of emotions that the story presents. That stuff hit me like a fucking freight train.
The best part of the film is the performances by each and every talented individual in front of the camera. While, Toni Collette is the clear standout...everyone else held his/her own in the film and really helped to make the story what it is...which is a pretty tight and engaging horror experience. Aside from one tiny CGI moment that involved a presence scurrying across a certain scene...most of the FX was fucking amazing. You'll notice it when you see it. Among the year's best in practical work....not that it is anything groundbreaking, per say. But...it is the kind of FX work that helps to drive the story forward...rather than distract the viewer. Really fucking creepy and unnerving work. Speaking of unnerving...that score was pretty goddamn great, as well. Mr. Colin Stetson provided the chilling music, which helped to create the atmosphere. He has also worked on higher profile stuff like The Black List and 12 Years a Slave.
I honestly don't know anything else that director Ari Aster has ever done...mostly because this is his first feature, after a string of short films. He presents himself as a very capable artist...able to merge the complexities of the drama with the darkness of the genre...and adept at balancing the two...which never once betrays either component. It is an impressive skill...and I look forward to more genre entries from Mr. Aster.
|The Various Stages of Toni Collette: I will bite your fucking head off and spit it into your father's smug face...AF.|
I really wish that I could talk to you more about the stuff that will certainly spoil the film...because that is what most naysayers found disappointing. Personally, I always love it when they throw tried and true horror elements into otherwise dramatic affairs because it really makes all of the difficult and perplexing stuff feel that much more manageable. Like...if one is dealing with specific social issues...a fucking creepy seance might snap you the fuck out of whatever doldrum you may be experiencing. I really ate all of that stuff up...ESPECIALLY the one particular sub genre that shows up just in time to fuck up the Graham family's already dysfunctional home. It was game on for this little buckaroo.
In the end...is Hereditary the best fucking horror film since whatever-the-fuck?? No. It is not. I am here to dispel all of those goddamn poster/DVD box trigger-happy wannabe pull quotes that try to freakin out do one another with something in your face, proclaiming crazy claims. Hereditary is a fucking good cinematic experience...as it weaves together all the emotional gravity of grieving a loved one with explicit horror movie elements. It will not blow you away...but, it just might plant itself inside your mind and live there for days to come...leaving you to ponder a bunch of stuff from the original story it presents. It is that kind of film. An emotional assault...as you sit their waiting for the jump scares to happen...this one seeps inside of you quietly. Highly recommended.
Thanks for reading,