Hey gang, Valkor here. This next film on the TOV MediaView chopping block wasn’t in my pile; hell, it wasn’t even on my radar, yet I knew of it. Hereditary touts itself as being one of the scariest movies ever. And from a guy who has seen his share of horror, I consider that a challenge. So let’s dive right in and see if this is the film that’ll make me run for a change of the old underwear! Spoilers ahead, but I’ll try and keep it to a minimum.
Hereditary centers on the Graham family, who are dealing with the loss of their mother/grandmother. And while the daughter, Annie (Toni Collette – The Black Balloon), isn’t taking it as hard as she should (though she is in a support group), it’s her daughter Charlie (Milly Shapiro), who seems to be hurt the most by the loss. We learn that she and grandma were close, to the point that even as a baby, grandma would breastfeed her, which we see in one of Annie’s art pieces. So, for the first 30 minutes or so of the film, we take a look at how the family is coping with the loss. However, the film stays close to Charlie and her strange habits such as collecting the head of a dead bird and her weird drawings. And throughout we get some spooky stuff happening, but nothing seriously scary. But when the son, Peter (Alex Wolff) is invited to a house party, he’s pretty much forced to take Charlie along, even though Charlie herself doesn’t want to go. In the midst of the party, Charlie eats a piece of cake with nuts in it (she’s allergic to nuts) and has an attack. As Peter races her to the hospital, Charlie tries to catch some air as her throat rapidly closes. And as Peter dodges a dead animal, Charlie loses her head. Peter doesn’t tell anyone but leaves the body for the family to discover the following day. And this proves devastating, especially for Annie.
Time has passed as the family is now dealing with two deaths. However, the weight of Charlie's death is heavy. Plus there’s an obvious rift between Annie and Peter, which will unleash later in the film. But that’s not important right now. What is important is that Annie returns to her support group, but doesn’t go in. As she’s about to leave, a strange woman stands in her way named Joan (Ann Dowd), who offers up her friendship, which Annie is hesitant to take, but eventually, the two hit it off. While out shopping, Annie meets Joan, who greats her with tremendous glee and invites her over to her house to see something wonderful. It turns out, Joan has been seeing a medium, who has been helping her conjure up the spirit of her dead grandson. As crazy as it sounds, the spirit makes its presence known, throwing Annie into all kinds of loops. And since she can't deal with all this madness, Annie. But before she leaves, Joan gives her items and instructions so that she can perform the same ceremony at home to bring back Charlie’s spirit. And from then onward is when the true madness begins. I’m going to cut this part of the review off right here because it’s this kind of madness that needs to be seen as it will rock your world.
I remember reading a meme that said: “Hereditary is like Get Out but for white people”. And as crazy as that might sound, I’d have to say it was true. The ending of both films are equally disturbing, but getting there, the two are on different paths. Does the path taken by “Hereditary” work? That all depends on who you ask. But if you’re here, then let me give you my thoughts in the TOV Breakdown.
Hereditary is one hell of a ride, with the kind of pacing, length, and frights I haven’t seen since “The Exorcist”, which when combined, makes for one jarring piece of entertainment. While the film might not be the scariest I’ve seen, it is worth watching as it left me feeling disturbed and unsettled. There aren’t too many jump scares (if any at all), but what the film does is set you up for a huge payoff – and the payoff is HUGE! Hereditary achieves its goals by immersing you deep inside a family drama that at times you forget you’re watching a horror. But the film also does a good job of reminding you that yes this is indeed a horror. And while there is a lot to sit through, it’s the ending that makes it all worthwhile as it’s a rollercoaster of chaos, unlike anything I’ve seen in a good while. The acting is this film’s strongest suit, and while it can get hammy at times, Toni Collette gives one hell of a performance as she showcases different ranges of Annie’s emotion from quiet and serene to chaotic madness. It just adds to the disturbing nature of the film and completes the terror package. In the end, Hereditary is THE must watch film of 2018. If you haven’t already done so, do yourself a favor and check this one out.
The Bad: Some might find this one too slow; if you weren’t able to get through The Exorcist, then you’ll find this film butt-numbingly slow to get through. There are stretches where literally nothing happens save for some dramatic moments. But it’s doesn’t really come together until about the third act. And that's a long stretch between acts.
Hereditary is the debut film of Ari Aster, who gets much praise on a solid, horrific piece. And even though it’s pretty lengthy with mad slow pacing, this is still one disturbing yet amazing film that will resonate with you long after you watch it. I’d say give it a shot while it’s still in its theatrical run, but I won’t be mad at you if you wait for the home version. Either way, it’s still worth watching! And out of TOV 5 stars, I’m giving Hereditary a 4.5.