Sunday, June 17, 2018

Screaming Sunday - Hereditary

By Sati. Sunday, June 17, 2018 , ,
Movie rating - 81/100
Plot:  When the matriarch of the Graham family passes away, her daughter's family begins to unravel cryptic and increasingly terrifying secrets about their ancestry.
The heroes: Graham family, trying to figure out just what the hell is happening.
The antagonists: Among others the sound Charlie makes which you will not be able to unhear.
Best scene: It involves a car.
Oh-oh something's not right line: Who is going to take care of me when you die?
What makes it so great? There are multiple scenes where something frightening is on the screen but there is no 'look!' signal from the director. No loud music. No zoom. Nothing that would happen in 9 out of 10 other horror films out there to draw your attention to the nightmarish element of the shot.

The film also gains so much because while most of it is not drenched in blood and gore there are absolutely horrific events and shots thrown at the audience all of the sudden and without warning. There is an event in the first act of the film that is so flawlessly orchestrated and so shocking, the film unfortunately peaks right then and there and never quite comes to that level again. It was a brilliant union of misdirection in the marketing, wonderful foreshadowing, playing with the audience's expectations and flawless direction. But what is the worst thing about that scene that has almost outlandishly gruesome outcome is how realistic it feels. If something like this happened in real life, there is plenty of people who would react to it the same way as the character we are watching. That is what makes the scene so powerful and so unsettling.

(SPOILERS!Unsurprisingly, the first images that came to Aster's head were the two most horrifying things in the film. He actually built the story around them and sadly it shows because nothing else in the film comes near these two moments. It actually feels like they got cold feet with the execution of the ending. It's very similar to far superior The VVitch's conclusion, but it somehow both dumps exposition on the viewer and feels like it was holding back. And it feels this way because it was. Test screening version of the film actually included Peter as Paimon ripping his and Joan's eyes out, and that would be very fitting end, topping even the gruesome telephone pole scene. But it didn't happen. While The VVitch's ending felt earned and justified and showed interesting and believable descent of Thomasin into the depths of hellish evil, the ending of Hereditary, while drenched in misery, has oddly little dread for what happens in it.

Another thing that muddles the waters are the questions we are left with, I'm not sure we were supposed to be asking. Was Charlie ever Charlie? Was she 'off' because Paimon was occupying her body? Why did Annie's dad kill himself and in such a gruesome manner (starvation)? How exactly did the husband catch on fire if the book was bound to Annie? For a film that relies so much on the importance of every line and event these are things that are ambiguous but shouldn't have been particularly that the film opts out of the ambiguity where it would be so easy to achieve and justified - is it really the cult's doing? or is it mental illness? This interpretation is thrown out of the window when we see the inside of Joan's apartment from our point of view, with the picture of Peter on the table.

Where Hereditary works is not so much as being a scary horror film as being very deep drama that shows things that we fear universally - losing family member, feeling abandoned and alone in your grief, the fear of the unknown. It's not so much the strength of the writing as it is the actors' doing, as they beautifully portray all of that dread and anguish. A lot has been said about Toni Collette's remarkable performance. Collette is fantastic but I much preferred her subtle, deeper performance in A Sixth Sense. But there is no denying she is truly ferocious here, particularly in the film's fantastic dinner scene. Alex Wolff and Milly Shapiro are also wonderful but I want to focus on Ann Dowd, who I thought stole the show. While the casting of Dowd who often plays antagonists was perhaps not the greatest move and reveals the film's tricks too early, she is outstanding in the movie.The way she portrays how clingy and desperate Joan is - in the first moment when she meets Annie and she has the sense that Annie is about to slip out of her grasp she just says 'my son died'. Is it her grief and wanting to share it with someone? Or is it her desperation because she needs Annie to talk to her in order to execute her nightmarish plan? The seance scene suggests that Joan was telling the truth and her son and grandson really died. So it could be both. While Joan is a villain the way Dowd plays her makes her also seem so desperate. I found her character to be the most interesting thing about that movie. (END OF SPOILERS)
Scare factor: - 3/5 evil pumpkins - Not only is it filled with disturbing imagery, the subject matter is very uncomfortable.
Gore factor:- 4/5 bloody Leatherfaces - There are some extremely disturbing images in this movie.
Is there a twist? Yes.
Unsuitable for: Anyone with nut allergy.
Repercussions: Fear of cakes. Fear of poles. Fear of ants. Fear of attics. Fear of pot.



14 comments:

  1. Wow! I'm so excited for this. I don't know who will come with me to the cinema, as my flatmate is still a bit mad at me for IT (Which wasn't even that scary! :D) but I mean, this just screams for big screen enjoyment! :D

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    1. "It" is a cartoon next to Hereditary :)

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  2. GOD I really want to see this - despite being a massive sissy pants. I'll come back to read the spoiler section when I finally do see it.

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    1. It's one of the scariest recent horrors, so be careful! :)

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  3. That whole car sequence left me with my hand over my mouth gasping. Truly one of the more shocking scenes I've seen this year.

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    1. Yeah it was so well done! The acting was also great there

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  4. That car sequence blew me away. I didn't see it coming at all and until they actually showed the outcome I was still somehow thinking it wouldn't be that bad.

    I didn't know the test audiences got that ending. That would've been better, I think.

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    1. Its like with more gruesome stuff being taken out of "It" too. I wonder why studios think people cannot take messed up stuff in horror

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  5. The ending really did feel like it came from a completely different movie, it felt a bit "silly" compared to the rest of it. I understand preferring Colette's more subtle work in Sixth Sense, but WOW does she COMMIT to this role. I really appreciated the extremely dark humor running through the movie, and she portrayed that perfectly.

    I'm with you on Ann Dowd - I kind of love that the ultimate message of the movie is (yet again after so many other movies and TV shows) DO NOT TRUST ANN DOWD. LOL. But she is so fantastic - at first she just seems like some poor grief-stricken woman, but then after her seance she totally changes into a crazy person in a way that fits in with the movie's tone SO WELL. And then of course, it's revealed that she's crazy in a COMPLETELY different way.

    Alex Wolff's dead-eyed stare in the car and in the dinner table scene just WRECKED me. He's so good.

    In total agreement that the ending with the eyes (or should I say, without the eyes?) would have kicked it up a notch.

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    1. Dowd was seriously incredible. Collette is already getting Oscar Buzz but I wish Dowd was getting some too

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  6. I totally skimmed because I don't know what I'm going to say about this yet, but I'm glad you liked it. I'm not sure if I enjoyed it or survived it, it actually might be a combination of the two.

    I couldn't unthink THAT SCENE and I had to vividly describe it to my wife for therapeutic reasons. She was absolutely pissed and horrified at me.

    Fun times.

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    1. She should have been grateful you didn't drag her with you to actually witness that herself :)

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  7. Okay... "Where Hereditary works is not so much as being a scary horror film as being very deep drama that shows things that we fear universally..." EXACTLY. I absolutely agree with that, and I think that sums up the entire film very well. Far from the "Scariest movie ever!" as marketing would suggest, but an effective psychological thriller for sure. Great review!

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    1. Yeah, the themes of grief and loss and emptiness and anger that comes with it were very well portrayed here not just by the scenes that Aster wrote but also the actors completely sold those emotions to the audience and were so authentic

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