‘Hereditary’ has been hailed as this generation’s ‘The Exorcist’.
The movie works better as a drama dealing with the themes of grief and loss rather than an all-out supernatural horror film.
The real horror is living and trying to cope with the death of a loved one in a world that is becoming ever more remote and detached.
The scares in this film were few and far between, and when they arrived they failed to raise the hairs on the back of the head.
The story, by director Ari Aster, is about a family coming to terms with the death of a grandmother, and how each member of a small family who live in a remote country house deals with the death. As the days go by the family begins to unravel mysterious clues about their grandmother and soon a sinister supernatural force enters the family’s home which is linked to the family’s ancestry.
The soundtrack by Colin Stetson was sinister and snarling, always lurking and smouldering, and the cinematography was poetic and multi-layered with a myriad of metaphoric possibilities.
In one remarkable sequence, a burial scene, the camera lingers at a respectable distance from the mourners in a wide-angle static shot which observes the funeral in a detached manner, and then as the coffin is lowered into the ground, the static camera begins to move downward, mirroring the lowering of the coffin, it travels beneath the lush green grass, and into the earth of a freshly dug grave, and the realisation comes that we, the audience, are now standing in a grave. The scene was very quiet, sombre, and the auditorium was hushed as the sequence closed to a black screen.
Toni Collette, who also co-produced the film with Gabriel Byrne (who plays her husband in the film), delivers a good performance but there were several pivotal moments where the scenes fell flat and her lines felt as if they were being read out rather than delivered with passion and conviction.
This movie had the potential to be a truly spine-tingling experience but ended up being a sterile family drama with horror elements thrown into the mix.