In Theatres: 
Jun 08, 2018
Running Time: 
127 minutes

There has been a resurgence of the horror genre in recent years, with many films going above and beyond the typical jump scares used in the past. Hereditary is a blend of classic supernatural horror mixed with bone-chilling tension. It’s an ambitious feature film debut for writer and director Ari Aster, who crafts a story that, while slow, will embed its imagery inside your head and never leave.


Every family has its secrets. That’s especially true for the Graham family, who are mourning the loss of their matriarch, Ellen. Following the funeral, Annie Graham (Toni Collette) learns that her mother had a secret life of her own that she kept hidden from the family. As she starts to uncover her past, strange things start happening to Annie’s own family, mainly to her teenage son Peter (Alex Wolff) and 13-year-old daughter Charlie (Milly Shapiro). Annie attempts to make sense of what is going on, but she still struggles with her own grief and will do anything it takes to get closure, even if that includes some unholy means.


Hereditary isn’t your typical horror film in that it doesn’t immediately jump into this supernatural world full of scares, and instead focuses on building its characters. Much of the first half of the film is exploring who the Graham family is and how they’re all affected by the loss of Ellen. It does have its creepy moments, mostly involving Charlie. She’s detached from everyone else, making weird clicking sounds or dismembering animal corpses to create these disturbing Frankenstein “dolls.” They’re not big moments, but they all help contribute to building the tension and create the feeling that there’s something not right with this family.


Most of Hereditary doesn’t focus on constantly trying to scare you but instead relies on a few brief but terrifyingly memorable scenes that will leave your jaw on the floor. Many audiences may find the film to be slow or boring, especially if you’re not into films like The Witch or It Comes at Night. Hereditary is more traditional than those, but it still relies heavily on tension rather than jump scares. I will admit that after my first viewing of the film I wasn’t completely enthralled with it. The story can be somewhat confusing, and I felt that the boring moments outweighed the scary ones. And yet I still couldn’t get its imagery out of my head, though. The more I thought about it, the more I enjoyed Hereditary.


Around the middle of the film where something happens that kicks things off into second gear. From there, Hereditary goes more deeper into its supernatural elements, ending with the most unhinged final act of a horror film in recent memory. The entire film alone is worth seeing just for those last 30 or so minutes. The overarching story becomes much clearer as well, enough to prompt a second viewing if you have the fortitude.


Hereditary is a slow burn horror film that will dig deep into your psyche and not let go. It’s impressive what writer and director Ari Aster has created for his feature film debut, and I cannot wait to see what terrifying project he will come up with next.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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