There are horror films that are meant to f*ck you up, and then there is Hereditary — which, IMO, is in a category all on its own.
Artist Annie Graham (Toni Collette) has just lost her mom, and is dealing with a lot of complicated feelings around loss, grief, and a years-long estrangement from her mother that was only broken by a sense of duty once her mom’s health started failing.
Annie is also dealing with a tense relationship with her teenage son (Alex Wolff), disciplining an unusual daughter (newcomer Millie Shapiro, who is fantastic!), and trying to manage a husband (Gabriel Byrne) who is alternately protective of, and frustrated with, her actions. Plus, she’s got a huge gallery project due, and she falls apart a little more with each piece she finishes.
I’m not gonna lie: this is a tough watch. Writer and director Ari Aster layers on the trauma and grief until you’re ready to break, mixing in bites of insanity and terror that will cause you to curl up into a smaller and smaller comfort position and dig your fingernails into your palms as each minute ticks by.
That said, everything about Hereditary is pitch perfect, from the casting to the cinematography to the killer score. I LOVED how subtle clues kept dropping to move the story forward, and also how each scene contained so. much. more. than what you see at first glance.
It’s nearly impossible to tell you anything else about this film without spoiling it, so I’ll just finish with this: as someone who consumes a ton of scary movies, it takes a LOT to get to me. And holycrap, Hereditary got to me. I woke up in a cold sweat the night of the screening, filled with the memory of terrifying dreams that mirrored what I’d seen on screen a few hours earlier.
As a horror fan, I can’t really ask for anything more.