On the 20th night of our 31 night horror movie marathon, I watched a film that many people had been recommending. They were right. Hereditary is freaking great!
This! This right here is what I have talking about for the past few weeks! Acting, directing, cinematography and script. Those are the most important things in making a movie people will enjoy.
Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, Gabriel Byrne and Milly Shapiro bring real life to these people. Consistency, realism, believability. That’s what good actors bring to their characters and these four deliver. While low for a Hollywood budget, 10 million dollars still can rent actors of proven quality. I suspect a good chunk of the budget went to paying their salaries and it was definitely a sound investment.
Cinematographers rarely get mentioned in discussions and reviews, but Pawel Pogorzelski does some gorgeous work here. From the opening scene where a doll house transforms seamlessly into a live set, you know you’re watching something special.
Most of all, I think the success of this film resides with Ari Aster, doing double duty as writer and director (like most great horrors). Hereditary was his first full length feature film, but it doesn’t show. The entire movie is tight and polished, with no rough edges. I cannot find a single nit to pick. Maybe, if I watched it a few more times, I could find something to complain about, but after my initial watch, the word perfect comes to mind. Everything fits together nicely and gets wrapped up in the end. You may not be happy with the climax, but you won’t be left wondering or guessing.
The film doesn’t follow a track that is easy to predict, often I thought I knew where it was going, only to have the movie making left turns I was not expecting. Also, a lot of the horror comes from shock, more than things jumping out at you. It’s more about making your jaw drop to the floor, than making you leap out of your seat.
I’m not going to say much about the story. I knew very little about it before watching, and I think it is better that way. I will say this much. The story does an unbelievable job of showing the effects of loss and grief on individuals and families, as well as the hidden terror of people living under the specter of serious mental illness in their family. NOT something you expect to be so well conveyed in a horror movie.
This same creative team recently released a new movie called Midsommar, I think I’m going to see if where I can find it.