Hereditary, the feature film debut by director and writer Ari Aster proves to be an extraordinarily masterful and impressive start for the filmmaker. His writing and directing skills are evidently brilliant as the film progresses, which, said film has one of the most shockingly bizarre film twists ever put to the big screen.
Annie Graham (Toni Collette) is a woman who is devastated when her mother Ellen passes away. She understandably cannot take her mind off this heartbreaking event, and neither can the rest of her family. But, when another family tragedy occurs, the Graham family will never be the same again.
I have been an extremely big fan of Collette’s ever since I was six years old when I watched the 2006 film Little Miss Sunshine for the first time. I always thought, even at that age, that her acting was great in that film. When I got older, I watched some of her older films as well – most notably the 1999 horror classic The Sixth Sense. Because of these reasons, I was exceptionally excited to see how Collette would be in Hereditary as she is no stranger to the horror genre, as she starred in the aforementioned Sixth Sense.
Let me just say this right away – Collette gives one of the best performances ever in a horror film. She has to portray almost all of her emotion with her face, and not with a plethora of dialogue, and she pulls it off effortlessly. This is easily the best performance of her entire career. If she does not get a nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performance as Annie Graham here, I will honestly be shocked.
The other actors in the film are great as well, such as Alex Wolff who portrays the Graham family’s teenage son Peter, and Gabriel Byrne who portrays the father, Steve.
Furthermore, Hereditary has perhaps the best cinematography and use of lighting and shadows of the entire cinematic year of film thus far. Everything about this film looks beautiful, yet dreary at the same time, and that is a good thing.
A huge portion of why the film is so unsettling is due to the amazing character development and the tremendously gripping script by Aster. You always feel plenty of sympathy for nearly every member of the Graham family. The story is one of the most gripping horror stories I have had the pleasure of watching in years. The creepiness and eerie atmosphere of the film is also thanks to the bone-chillingly beautiful score by Colin Stetson.
I cannot give away too many details regarding Hereditary due to its extremely secretive plot and story synopsis promoted in the film’s trailers, posters, online promotional material, and more. This is more than likely the wish of Aster, and understandably so. With a film as weird, beautiful, and haunting all at the same time, who wouldn’t want their film’s plot to be relatively kept under wraps?
Ari Aster’s directorial debut horror feature Hereditary is an extraordinarily powerful and haunting film. The characters are always facing non-stop dread and tragedy, and you cannot help but feel for them throughout the entire duration of the film. Toni Collette gives one of the best performances ever in a horror film. Here’s hoping she gets an Oscar nomination for this film.
For more thoughts on Hereditary, please check out my video review by clicking on this link: https://youtu.be/4oMiI44yu-0
Overall Grade: A+
MPAA Rating: R for horror violence, disturbing images, language, drug use and brief graphic nudity
Cast: Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, Gabriel Byrne
Directed by: Ari Aster
Distributed by: A24
Running Time: 127 minutes