Saturday, 16 June 2018

'Hereditary' Review

After the death of her secretive and difficult mother, Annie (Toni Collette) and her family start to experience some changes in their lives. As more is found out about the families past, the trauma intensifies as the family look to escape the terror they are destined for. 

Recent horror films have taken different approaches to freshen the genre up, through new ideas or building on those previous tropes. 'Hereditary' looks to build on this, with clear inspiration from past films being handled in a mature, clever and fresh way. 'Hereditary' combines art and horror exceptionally as its shocks are truly shocking whilst maintaining its aesthetic appeal.

Horror is most effective when there is a sense of realism behind it which reflects the real world in disturbing ways. With 'Hereditary', what seems like a 'demon' or possession movie has deep laying themes of mental illness, stress, family and coping with loss which is showcased in deeply harrowing ways. Like other A24 films, it is fairly unconventional with metaphors and ambiguity being used heavily throughout the film which may take time for viewers to absorb and fully appreciate. The jumpscares are kept to a minimum but are used effectively with chilling build ups and brilliant use of tension. There are no cheap tactics with 'Hereditary' as its story, performances and atmosphere do more than enough to keep you on edge. This is best summed up by how a simple click of the tongue can continuously make your skin crawl.

From the very start, it feels as if something is off and you are immediately drawn into the film. First-time director Ari Aster does a masterful job in creating this constant feeling of unease, with his slow pans and long takes early on establishing this feeling before escalating further on in the film. Less is more and Aster displays this as he hides actions and figures in the darkness with subtle movements giving away that something creepy is around the corner. Aster uses every inch of the screen which no doubt will benefit the film on rewatches as viewers will pick up on creepy and disturbing moments that they may have missed the first time around.

Toni Collette is undoubtedly the star of the film as her characters emotional turmoil allows the Australian actress to showcase her abilities. Whether it's bickering with her son or screaming the house down in terror, Collette is wonderful and never silly, creating a true feeling of dread and fear for what is happening. She is supported tremendously by Gabriel Byrne, a great contrast to Collette's character as he is the calm head who looks to keep everything together. Both Alex Wolff and Milly Shapiro leave a lasting impression with impressive performances in such intense roles, with their youth and innocence adding to the trauma.

'Hereditary' is an incredibly clever horror film that trusts its story to carry through its horrifying messages. It never engages in lazy tactics and respects its audience and it pays dividends. This is not only the best horror films of the year but one of the best films in general of the year. This remarkable debut is truly special and is a genuinely terrifying art piece. 'Hereditary' is exactly the kind of horror film we should expect and hail with plaudits due to its boldness, creativity, intensity and the sheer terror it creates. Genuinely horrific and unpredictable, 'Hereditary' is undoubtedly the best horror film of the year.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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