I am an absolute HUGE fan of horror movies, especially ones that don’t rely on jump scares. So naturally I was really excited to see Hereditary. I knew almost nothing about the movie going in, I had only heard it was a great horror movie without jump scares. Perfect right? Let’s find out.
Let’s start with the first half of the movie because I want to get this out of the way. It dragged on. A lot. Usually this is really common for the genre, building up to the big scary climax and that’s what I was hoping for here. However this time it wasn’t so much a build up but just flat until the final act (we’ll get to this).
There was a small amount of early spooky elements that could have actually worked really well. I can tell the film was trying to be subtle with it but it could have been turned up just a small amount and it would have fixed most of my issues with the first half.
One part I did like was one of the twists earlier in the movie which changed where I thought the plot was going. I certainly thought we’d be sticking with the creepy child trope and while it was actually executed pretty well (that kid was WEIRD man) I’m always happy to see it changed up a bit.
The main characters were all pretty relatable and a down to Earth family (except that creepy as hell kid). This helps build the foundation you need to get totally spooked later on. So far so good.
Unfortunately around the half-way mark Hereditary decides to continue the less terrifying part of the plot. A normal boring family is totally fine at the beginning of a horror movie. But NO ONE wants to enter the second half of the movie one hour deep and still see the mother messing around with her diorama. I’m not even sure I spelled that word correctly because I care about it that little.
There’s so much else that was going on that could have been the focus and help unsettle the audience. I won’t spoil anything but there was plenty of trauma that was sorely misused.
Now let’s get into the best part of any horror movie. The Final Act.
This was done so well in my opinion. I felt genuine fear for the character(s) involved and the filming techniques just enhanced that. It’s not just the camera either, it’s the audio. There’s this perfect atmosphere of “oh god please don’t move the camera to make me see that”. But then the camera moves anyway and it’s exactly as gut wrenching or breath halting as you were expecting.
My only criticism with the last part of the movie was right at the very end. You can tell it’s trying to wrap everything up nicely with a neat (yet spooky) explanation. Unfortunately it was executed pretty poorly, felt rushed and overall just wasn’t that interesting. I would have been much happier if I was just left with that messy situation and I had to figure out my own explanation.
Overall I would give the movie 2 out of 5. However I would give the last 40 minutes 4.5 out of 5 (excluding the very end). I think it’s worth a watch but only if you have the time to sit through most of the movie to get to the good (terrifying) stuff.
Running Time: 127 MIN
Director: Ari Aster
Starring: Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, Ann Dowd, Gabriel Byrne
Production Studio: PalmStar Media, Finch Entertainment, Windy Hill Pictures
Distributor: A24, StudioCanal
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