Spiritual? Paranormal? Cult? What is Hereditary about?
This post for Hereditary is spoiler-free.
Hereditary (2018, directed by Ari Aster) is certainly one of the most stunning films I’ve watched this year. Though the story might not be on par with the cinematic styles and aesthetics that is present throughout the film; it is definitely a must-watch for audiences who are seeking to watch something that will leave you pondering deeply about the film’s meaning.
Hereditary is the first feature film from Aster, who wrote and directed it. It follows the story of miniature artist Annie Graham (Toni Collette) and her family—husband, Steve Graham (Gabriel Byrne); eldest son, Peter Graham (Alex Wolff); and youngest daughter, Charlie Graham (Milly Shapiro)—who are grieving the loss of Annie’s mother Ellen Leigh (uncredited role, but played by Kathleen Chalfant). Following Ellen’s passing, tragedy and darkness soon befalls the Graham family, and secrets start to unravel.
Despite watching this film two months late, I’m glad that I’ve avoided reading any spoiler discussion articles about it; because going into Hereditary with no expectations was what made my movie-going experience a fulfilling one. I had only seen the trailer and know that it’s a horror film; but apart from that, I had no idea what it was about.
This arthouse horror film left me blown away by the framing and composition of every scene—particularly the ones where the miniature art work is edited to be part of the film world.
Having seen Collette in Showtime’s TV series United States of Tara before, I was equally impressed by her capability as an actress to do what she did here and in the former. Her ability to showcase different emotions throughout the film was outstanding; the horrid look on her face when she screams incited a sense of fear in me—it was just that believable! Wolff also does a stellar job in his role as Peter. I’ve only ever seen him as a child in Nickelodeon’s The Naked Brothers Band, and more recently in the Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle sequel. His performance in Hereditary showcases his range as an actor; he portrays the broody, scared, and guilty high school teenager perfectly.
Making her film debut in Hereditary, Shapiro’s Charlie is so creepy that it gave me the chills. With very little character dialogue, what makes Charlie stand out is her unique/unusual clucking habit; her facial expressions and actions in the film also contributes to her character to be one of the creepiest element in Hereditary.
Aster’s use of cinematically stunning shots, complemented by a chilling score—composed by Colin Stetson—really elevated the entire film.
Stetson told Thrillist, “The whole structure of the score mirrors the structure of the film, and it does so in every way that it’s built up.”
True enough, the score does get more intense as the plot progresses.
The film definitely contains a lot of hidden meanings to it and it would require your full attention to gain a sense of what’s going on. But fret not, even if you leave the theatre feeling confused, New Rockstars has a great spoiler explanation on their YouTube channel. I recommend checking out Hereditary, especially on the big screen!