RATED - (R) - 127-MIN-2018

                               Hereditary gets in your bones and stays there


Just as much a character study about how tragedy slowly affects and deteriorates a family to its very core, as it is a  white-knuckle horror-suspense film, ( Heredity), will be tough to shake after you leave the theater.
Very much in the spirit and tone of the equally frightening and brilliant (The Witch), this new film, from first time feature writer-director (Ari Aster) gets in your bones and festers. From the opening black screen, with the inverted white obituary of a 78-year grandmother: Ellen, with its ominous score, and slow camera movements, Aster sets an uneasy tone from the get-go, and this feeling of dread lingers and builds as the story unfolds. It is not for everyone, but this is, in its genre, an excellent film.

Ellen, we learn from the funeral, as her daughter: Annie Graham (the fabulous Toni Collette) speaks to the assembled group with a bit of disdain, lived with Annie and her family before she died, and had a complicated relationship with her. Ellen was not an easy person to understand or get along with, and she had her secrets. Annie, is an artist, who painstakingly recreates personal dioramas to sell at gallery exhibits, in her dark, dimly lit wooden house, somewhere in the northwest.


Her quiet and calm husband: Steve (Gabriel Byrne), their typical pot-smoking teenage son: Peter (a remarkable  Alex Wolff), and the odd and quiet preteen daughter: Charlie (a very effective Milly Shapiro, in a difficult role), seem to have a distance to themselves, which hints at past events. Annie is torn by her mother's death, and the particular behavior of Charlie, who was very close to Ellen, concerns Annie. Charlie spends a lot of time in an adjacent treehouse with a space heater glowing in the window, crafting all sorts of odd things, while constantly making a clucking sound with her tongue. She keeps to herself and tells Annie she misses her grandmother very much. Charlie seems to be somewhere else, and not present. Annie is concerned.

Peter, who has the hots for a girl in his class at school, smokes weed and lives in his bedroom. Steve seems to be just trying to support Annie as she gets through this tough time. Charlie is drawing weird things in her notebook.They are doing their best to carry on.

Then, Steve gets a call from the cemetery and is told that someone has desecrated Ellen's grave. Afraid with how Annie will take this news, Steve keeps it from her. Cue the foreboding music, those damn clucking sounds, and the inevitable march to a series of events that keeps ratcheting up the tension as this family slowly enters into darkness. When Annie tells Peter that he must take Charlie to a party where the girl he likes is at, things completely unravel in such a shocking way, you will know that the conventional rules don't apply, to where and how the filmmaker Aster is taking this. If that sounds unsettling.. it is. Slowly, but surely, the narrative that Aster is telling becomes clear, and I loved how he hinted at things and didn't slam them in your face. And when something shocking does happen, it is all the more, a blow to what you are seeing.


Aster hints at the corners of rooms, walls, and ceilings. If you are brave enough to really look, there is something there, and it is sneering at you. That is frigging frightening. At no point in the two plus hours will you feel remotely safe; and that is Aster's point.

I do not enjoy scary movies for the most part, (especially the ones that play with the spiritual and mental end of it), but the good ones intrigue me if they are done well. They are meant to do that, and I will go in with my reservations, hoping to appreciate the creative and artistic way a filmmaker has chosen to present the story they are telling. If you can't get past that, go see another movie. Aster has said he wanted you to feel the helplessness as the family does. He succeeds brilliantly. Bad things are coming, and Collette's performance is shattering, as she goes off the rails.

Owing much to many classic films for inspiration,(too many to mention), Hereditary has many moments where you will gasp in horror at what you are seeing, what you imagined it would be, and where Aster takes you. 

That's great and original filmmaking.

You should see this movie.

watch the trailer: