Saturday 16 June 2018

Movie Review: Hereditary (2018)

A supernatural horror film, Hereditary takes far too long to unveil what proves to be a limp plot.

Annie (Toni Collette), her husband Steve (Gabriel Byrne), teenaged son Peter (Alex Wolff) and 13 year old daughter Charlie (Milly Shapiro) live in a secluded house in a rural setting. A miniature artist preparing models for an upcoming show, Annie is more relieved than sad when her difficult and mysterious mother Ellen passes away. Ellen was close to Charlie (Milly Shapiro), while Annie has a strained relationship with Peter.

In addition to a history of mental illness and strange deaths in her family, Annie suffers from incidents of sleepwalking. She is further unhinged when she catches glimpses of Ellen's ghostly presence, but then a shocking incident tears the family apart. Annie struggles to cope, but gets some help from the kindly Joan (Ann Dowd), a member of a support group who claims that she can teach Annie to be a medium and conjure up the dead.

Directed and written by Ari Aster, Hereditary clocks in at a laborious two hours. And while the initial investment in characters and family dynamics is promising and appreciated, eventually the film comprehensively collapses under the weight of all set-up and no pay-off. A threat of some sort has to emerge to sustain the horror, but Aster leaves it all too late, and the tension is long gone by the time the film starts to bother to explain itself.

Finally, in the closing 15 minutes, really bad things start to happen, but the mumbo jumbo that passes for an explanation barely registers, and the impact is minimal. What is supposed to be climactic horror instead evokes "whatever" shrugs and threatens to descend into unintentional laughs.

Annie's dedication to her miniature art offers interesting cinematography opportunities but is ultimately discarded as a narrative theme. A fully invested Toni Collette performance is wasted, while the rest of the cast is largely dreary, with only young Milly Shapiro able to inject a healthy dose of spookiness.

Hereditary's best horror moment occurs relatively early, an unexpected and violent loss that doubles down on Annie's agony. The distraught mother at her darkest hour should have been a powerful premise, but presented with an opportunity to genuinely frazzle, Hereditary fizzles instead.

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  1. I think this movie would have been more interesting if it would have explored and developed on the horror genre in more depth. It was a bit disappointing to be honest.

    1. It has a few good moments, but it is unfortunately over-hyped, hardly scary, and way too long for the story it is trying to tell.


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