It’s almost been a year since HEREDITARY hit screens, after a glowing premiere at Sundance Film Festival 2018. We take some time to reflect on the debut horror nightmare from Ari Aster.
At its core, HEREDITARY is about a family in turmoil. We enter a grieving household with deeply rooted cracks, brought to the surface by the recent loss. With boiling tensions among family members, the horrific events that follow take them to a point of no return. The seen-it-before set pieces of horror are grounded by the slow-burning film’s understanding of human loss.
In the beginning, the fragile household feels slightly artificial, with a frequent use of dollhouses and miniatures. As chaos ensues with some unexpected twists and turns, we quickly realise that there could be underlying powers at play, controlling the unfolding events.
The cast is lead by Toni Collette, who encapsulates terror several times over, with her character in emotional free fall. She was subsequently nominated for Best Leading Actress at the Independent Spirit Awards, for her performance as Annie Graham. Alex Wolff is a revelation, as Annie’s son Peter. Initially reserving his emotion, the tears, screaming and crying soon lets rip. Milly Shapiro delivers a haunting performance as Annie’s daughter Charlie. Whilst Gabriel Byrne portrays the husband desperately trying to keep the family together.
In his feature debut, Ari Aster proves himself to be an accomplished filmmaker – capable of enabling acting performances which ignite, in a story that brings meaning to its horror through raw human emotion.
Hereditary is chilling genre cinema, with a heart.