I can’t say that I had high expectations for A24’s Hereditary. That feeling was mainly predicated on how I view the studios’ first couple of attempts at getting into the horror genre. They usually provide good stuff, but they’ve missed out on both of those feature films. Fortunately, the third time proved to truly be a charm for these guys as they present us with Hereditary, a horror movie that is easily superior to what they were trying to sell us before.
When Ellen, the matriarch of the Graham family passes away, the family of her daughter Annie (Toni Collette) has to start fresh and move down a new path. Especially for Annie, that appears to be a tough task to take on since Ellen had such an impact on their lives. As they attempt to go into the future, they find themselves looking back to the past and uncovering horrifying secrets that they might be forced to carry along with them on their new journey.
With the death of the grandmother essentially being the first thing we get, you may believe this will be a quick movie, but you’d be wrong. As it turns out, Hereditary moves at a pretty slow pace through much of the first half. There are periods where it almost loses me over the course of this time because of it. The only thing that kept me into it even a little bit was due to there being just enough going on at certain to keep my attention.
Over time, things begin to move fairly quickly. Once that happens, Hereditary picks up and improves dramatically. The execution during this portion of the movie assists in carrying this to levels you are probably hoping for. This is partially due to the speed, but it also helps that everything that’s been placed before us ahead of time works to come together and give us a complete horror story.
This made me appreciate the structure of the film as a whole. While it lingers a bit in the beginning, there’s a ton of ground work being laid out for the audience that you need to pay attention to. Much of what I’m speaking of consist of details that are shown in passing, but they end up being important if you want the full impact when everything starts to fully band together and twists are being presented.
Thinking back on it or focusing from the outset shows you just how meticulous the filmmakers were when it came to getting this all to work the way they needed it to. For me, this is a good thing since it’s an attempt to challenge the viewers of Hereditary, and it allowed my mind to play along with all of the specific elements that came with this level of foreshadowing. Granted, it made the ending a little predictable for me, but it also gave me a chance to be engaged in a way that few movies do.
To help us get to where we need to be, a lot was also required from the actors who are featured in the movie. With the exception of a couple of people, the actors don’t necessarily have to show a ton of range with their performances. However, they do need to perform within the context they’re given. In that case, they do just that as they add to what we get as the suspense and mystery surrounding these events continue to develop.
While I enjoyed most of what Hereditary offers, I can see this not being the kind of horror movie for those who are simply looking for the usual experience. For those people, they may check out mentally before things start moving if they don’t want to “connect the dots” from the start. If you have no desire to do that, you may miss a large chunk of what needs to be processed in order for this to work to the degree that it needs to.
After the release of two horrible horror movies in recent years, A24 has come back with a strong feature film that could end up being considered the best scary movie of 2018. In fact, if they sped it up and shaved about 15 minutes off of its runtime, it could have been a lock for my top ten at the end of the year. I guess it could still get there, but those extra minutes that had this shaping up to be mediocre at best in the early portions may prevent that from happening.
Director: Ari Aster
Film Length: 123 minutes
Release Date: June 8, 2018
Distributor: A24 Films
- Score - 7.5/107.5/10