Starring: Toni Collette, Milly Shapiro, and Gabriel Byrne
Runtime: 2 hrs 7min.
The lights go from dim to bright as the credits roll down the screen. I find myself staying to the end not to see if there are any scenes after the movie, but my mind is just trying to make sense of it all. Slowly turning toward my movie partner (my wife), I ask “What are we supposed to do with that?” I am at a loss for words of what I endured for the past two hours. Dumbfounded and perplexed, my mouth opens but nothing comes out, because I have no words for Ari Aster’s 2018 horror film, Hereditary.
When Annie’s (Toni Collette) mother passes away, her life starts to change abruptly in a calamitous fashion. Not sure if she can bear the devastation, she seeks guidance from a friendly but mysterious stranger (Ann Dowd) who helps her cope with her loss. But this new-found friendship begins to unravel cryptic and increasingly terrifying secrets about her family’s ancestry.
A24 films are applauded for their unique brand of horror films and story writing. Their trademark is originality. But at times, their marquee brand of uniqueness leads to bewilderment and confusion. At times, A24 films try too hard. You can be led down a dark winding road and know that at the end of the road there awaits something truly terrifying. To know ends all doubt but the unexpected gives you hope. With this film, it is better to know what is going on, then to be given false hope of something astonishing only to be subjected to a ridiculous ending. Hereditary will make viewers question what is really happening, but in the end, they are left to contemplate the absurdness of what they just witnessed.
The standout in this horror movie is Toni Collette. Her portrayal of a mother stricken by grief trying to hold on to the last thread of hope to make sense out of her terrifying and tragic life is outstanding. Bordering on that of insanity, every bit of her pain and anxiety is felt throughout the film. Especially when she suffers a tragic unimaginable loss and her anguish is heard and felt in her cries and screams as she succumbs to the pain.
Like meeting a date for the first time and the look of astonishment on your face when you realize that the nice picture that was sent to you was from 10 years ago and 50 pounds lighter. You are rendered speechless as you try to say hello. Hereditary leaves you in a state of confusion. The question of “What did I just see?” bangs loudly in your ear as if you just saw a pudgy Walmart customer dressed in a bikini top and a pair of cutoff jean shorts three sizes too small.