If I had a dollar for every time a movie was touted as being”scarier than the Exorcist,” I’d be able to buy a lot of Taco Bell. I heard that claim, or some variation thereof, repeatedly made about first time director Ari Aster’s new movie Hereditary. Those claims, plus an unsettling trailer, caused me to see the film during its opening weekend (something I very rarely do). Did it live up to the hype? Let’s find out.
When Ellen passes away, her daughter’s family begins to unravel cryptic and increasingly terrifying secrets about their ancestry. The more they discover, the more they find themselves trying to outrun the sinister fate they seem to have inherited.
The plot of Hereditary had all the elements of an unsettling horror movie. Grieving parents, creepy kids, and the occult. I won’t go into detail about the plot here, because the movie ends up being different than you think from watching the trailer. While not entirely original, the story still remained interesting enough to keep the viewer engaged throughout.
This was one of the most well acted movies I’ve seen in quite some time. Toni Collette does an outstanding job portraying the world of an insanely grieved mother, flirting with mental illness. Milly Shapiro and Alex Wolff likewise brought quality acting to the screen which really enabled the moviegoer to feel for the children.
Special Effects- 2.5/5:
While the cinematography of Hereditary is masterful, some of the special effects fell a little flat. The seance scenes basically only included a glass moving on its own, and a flame shooting out of a candle. There was also a scene where a headless corpse floated into a tree house that actually made me laugh out loud. While there wasn’t a ton of gore, the few bits that included it were pretty well done. No complaints there.
This will probably be the most controversial part of this review. I said last night that sometimes I think people mistake “weird” for “scary.” While the movie did create some uneasiness, it really wasn’t all that scary. The comparisons to The Exorcist seemed to be a bit of a reach. The film is a slow burn, and does a good job of building tension, but the climax didn’t really do it for me. Even the seance scenes seemed to fall a little flat. Again, the film could leave one feeling uneasy, but in my opinion the films in The Conjuring series are a lot more terrifying.
I don’t want my complaints about the film to make it seem like I didn’t enjoy it. I did. It was an above average haunted house flick. Superbly acted and beautifully shot, Hereditary will definitely get another watch from me. My main gripe is that I found the movie more bizarre than scary. The first bit of the movie is essentially a drama about a grieving mother. While that alone can be disturbing, it fell short of the “Satanic assault” I read of in the days prior to its release. Perhaps its my fault for going in with such high expectations. In any event, hardcore horrorphiles should definitely watch the film at least once.