Keeping a family close and content can be a complicated endeavor, especially when there are secrets and lies that lurk around every corner. This is exactly what’s explored in Ari Aster’s debut feature film, Hereditary. After the death of the Graham family’s matriarch, her daughter, Annie, does her utmost to keep her family safe while mysterious, terrifying secrets arise. Ari Aster writes and directs this ominous horror film, starring Toni Colette, Milly Shapiro, Gabriel Byrne and Alex Wolff.
An Instant Horror Classic
Horror can be very subjective, but it usually works best when it’s tied to something tangible or realistic, and that’s what Aster does with his film. He lets us get to know the characters first, and allows us to invest ourselves in Annie and her family’s well-being. So, when the film amps up the horror, we’re even more terrified because we care. Now, this film has no real jump scares; we’re simply shown a scene and there may be something off about it. A figure in the dark that you can’t quite see or one that may or may not be there. There are quite a few images in this film that are unforgettable, lingering way past the credits. Aster does an expert job of involving the audience’s imagination in the horror, as he knows that what we can’t see in its entirety is more frightening. Additionally, the sound design is flawless and really gets the blood pumping. It could be an ominous score or a simple clicking sound, but every part of the sound design is incredibly nerve-racking.
Ari Aster combines a family drama with a horror film, and he succeeds with flying colors, as he allows the family tension and horror to bleed out in a slow burn tale. It’s a nightmare of a film that really digs deep into the roles that we take in life, especially with the mother, Annie, who doesn’t always feel like she belongs in her role. All the characters are fantastic, but we really get a fully fleshed out character with Annie. Aster allows us to feel her pain and loss, yet also her drive to make things right in a world where she’s nothing but a doll in a dollhouse.
Toni Colette Gives A Tremendous Performance
Although the cast does an amazing job as a whole, Toni Colette as Annie is award-worthy. Colette gives a tremendous performance as Annie, a dollhouse artist with a family history of intense adversities. Annie is a troubled woman that is desperately trying to hold herself together during a colossal tragedy, and Colette flawlessly goes through so many emotions. Annie is a complex character with deep scars, yet she wants to do good, and that’s what makes her relative. Not to mention, she’s also pretty funny at times.
Both of the young actors in the film, Milly Shapiro, who plays Annie’s daughter Charlie, and Alex Wolff, who plays Annie’s son Peter, hold their own against veteran actor’s Toni Colette and Gabriel Byrne. Shapiro plays Charlie, an introvert that really just feels alone without her grandmother. On the other end is Peter, played with fantastic emotional range by Wolff. They sell their characters so well, making the film that much more effective. And, of course, Gabriel Byrne does a solid job as usual, which is no surprise.
Hereditary is definitely a must-watch film, especially if you’re a horror fan. Listen, I’ve watched The Exorcist, and I consider it one of the scariest movies I’ve ever seen; however, I wasn’t around when it was released in theaters so I didn’t get the full-on experience. Hereditary is quite possibly the scariest movie I’ve seen in theaters, and one of the best movies I’ve seen this year. It shows you the battle to do what’s right in a story where you’re destined to be devoured by the evils that surround you. In one way or another, we’re all dolls in a dollhouse.