Hereditary is a 2018 supernatural horror motion-picture written and directed by Ari Arister. It centres on the troubled lives of the Graham family in Annie (Toni Collette), Charlie (Milly Shapiro), Peter (Alex Wolff) and Steve (Gabriel Bryne) who have to deal with a life-threatening paranormal haunting.
a.) Charlie Graham.
It’s safe to say that Milly Shapiro’s career is off to a good start with this film being her very first. Her character’s story is really sympathetic and quite painful as well. From the onset, Charlie’s life takes a turn for the worst when something unfortunate happens to her and she is eventually left in utter distraught. The grim expressions on her Shapiro’s character are incredibly convincing and are in perfect sync with the situation she is going through. However much her mother tries to perform her mom role, Charlie is having none of it; it’s like she has shut herself from reality because nothing else matters to her anymore. I was very satisfied with Charlie’s role in this film, it’s yet another case of perfect juvenile casting and I am seriously looking forward to seeing more of her in the movies to come.
b.) Anne Graham.
Wow! There’s not much one can say to convince me that Toni Collette wasn’t fantastic in this film; her otherworldly acting is there for all to see. Her character is in many ways a shining example of what anyone would dread in life; trouble follows Annie like a shadow and there is little to nothing she can do about it. The tone in the character’s voice and the desperation in her quest to make sense of her life and why she had to go through a lot of pain and misfortune is breathtaking. I enjoyed every bit of the eerie but visually incredible journey that Toni Colletti’s character took me through.
There are various contrasting elements to Annie that anyone, having watched the film, will confirm worked perfectly in fleshing her out as well as the struggles she is going through. In almost every scene that Tony is in, she commands your undivided attention whether verbally or non-verbally and from a personal perspective, I’d be surprised if she doesn’t win an Oscar for her role in this movie by this time next year; she is exceptional on here.
c.) Peter and Steve Graham.
The gift of stellar performances just keeps on giving and Alex Wolff musn’t be left out on the praise that I just showered on the previous actors. I loved his character Peter Graham, the first born in the Graham family whose arc in the movie is just as dark as her mum Annie. He is in conflict with himself in an unimaginable way after being involved in a tragedy that has him scarred for life, not in a literal sense. From the 2nd Act onwards, I had a feeling his character would have as big a piece of the bitter conflict cake to swallow and that feeling, much to,my delight, came to fruition. Alex Wolfe’s character, much like Annie, communicates well whether he is speaking or not and I honestly wouldn’t want it any other way as far as versatile acting is concerned.
Steve, the patriarch of the Graham household wasn’t as investing as the others I mentioned were but I was in his camp nonetheless. I felt how the character felt being entangled in this paranormal fiasco involving his family, more-so his wife simply because he did not sign up for any single unfortunate thing that comes his way. The marital vows he took when he tied the knot with Annie is tested a couple of times in the film as his wife takes him through a confusing mystical ride-along. The vulnerability to him in the face of conflict is incredibly inviting and understandably so.
d.) The Theme, Boons and Banes.
Well, for starters, I came into this film not expecting much reason being that movies of this genre have been done several times before in both the recent and distant past and thus I thought I’d get more of the same things I normally see in horror flicks, the good ones at least. That said, this photoplay took me by surprise and swept me clean of my feet beginning, middle and end; I don’t remember the last time I was so glued to a screen in my life as I was with this. The theme of guilt and redemption is overwhelmingly present on here; there are quite a number of instances where Annie reaches a tipping point as a result of her turmoil case in point the argument scene on the Graham dinner table.
She turns from a subtle “please don’t talk to me” persona to a feisty “I hate you for what you did” persona in the blink of an eye after her son mentions the one topic that she dreads talking about; a topic that pours excess salt on a wound that is still very open and which Annie feels she would have prevented even though she does not want to admit it. The sheer guilt haunts her to a point where contemplates seeking unconventional means to quell it.
This film’s score is as much a character as the real ones are; the music composer Colin Stetson clearly had his work cut out in this project and I believe he delivered that much needed eerie tone with his work here. The story is rich and unpredictable filled with great suspense in the moments where you feel something uncanny is definitely afoot. The editing was well done; the time lapses involving Peter which instantaneously transition from his home to his classroom when the camera is fixed on him is a perfect example of it.
At this point in my review, I think you’d have noticed that I have tried as much as I can not to give away the true plot of Hereditary; I simply wanted this post to be more spoiler-free than any other spoiler-free review I’ve done leading up to this so that you can watch it yourself and connect my points with your cinematic experience. Notwithstanding, the motion-picture does tend to take a jab or two at my preferred religion during particular points in its runtime but I didn’t feel it as much; it wasn’t that pronounced. This is arguably the best movie I have seen this year so far and the grade I am about to administer to it is deserved. Sorry ‘Annihilation’ and ‘A Quiet Place’, we have a new king… or queen, whichever suits you best.