Hereditary – Film Review

A24 must be the favorite film company of recent years. Despite not achieving box office success with their choice of subjects and their approach to filmmaking, they manage to satisfy the audience. They generally gravitate towards films with specific styles and themes, and this applies to horror films as well. I will elaborate on this shortly. Hereditary entered the scene with great fame. The film received serious acclaim wherever it was shown, and a solid advertising campaign was conducted for it, which I will discuss shortly. It is referred to as not only the best horror film of 2018 but also the best horror movie after The Conjuring. Those who watched it were on the edge of their seats, and those who left the film seemed to have lost their minds. Is it really that intense?

To briefly touch on the plot… After the grandmother’s passing, Graham family strives to continue their lives from where they left off, but unfortunately, they cannot healthily accomplish this. There’s a careless father, an obsessive mother, a useless older brother, and a troubled sister. Annie, the mother who believes her mother’s spirit resides in their house, gradually begins to lose her sanity in the supernatural realm. Meanwhile, the children struggle to find their own paths and stumble heavily. The tragic series of deaths that start in the family after the grandmother’s demise eventually turns into a massive family tragedy.

Hereditary entered the theaters with a highly successful advertising campaign, earning praise from critics. I must say that whoever conducted the advertising campaign did a remarkable job. Advertisers using the comparative technique, selected The Conjuring to elevate the film. Marketed as the most terrifying film since The Conjuring, it piqued the curiosity of everyone, including myself. Because, according to me and many others, The Conjuring is considered the most successful horror film in recent years. When a film claims to be better or on par with The Conjuring, it generates curiosity. So, I paid and went to see the film. Is it truly so scary? Unfortunately, it is not.

Hereditary is A24’s 5th horror film. All five films have similarities. However, especially the last three films, including Hereditary, It Comes at Night, and The Witch, are almost identical. A24 seems to have a condition in their contracts that the camera should rotate slowly when choosing horror films. Or perhaps they prefer films with slow camera movements. I’m not sure. The only thing I understand is that these three films are similar in terms of direction, art design, and character design. All the figures seen in Hereditary, including the demons, can also be seen in It Comes at Night. I guess they have the same department working on all of them. The trend of naked demons. The technique of scaring with nothing. This rising technique in horror cinema lately is also present in Hereditary. It aims to make the audience scare themselves without showing anything.

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Although they market the film as a horror film, I think it’s more of a thriller than a horror. Ari Aster deserves congratulations. He has a rather disturbing narrative style. The camera’s slow and mechanical movement definitely increases the tension level. While I didn’t particularly like the film, I must say that I appreciate the director’s style. These mechanical camera movements started with It Follows and have become quite prominent. However, while It Follows does justice to the suspense, Hereditary, and its copycat, It Comes at Night, relies on empty visuals and planned music to create tension in people. It’s a kind of psychological game. And it seems they are successful at it. 70% of the two-hour film consists of music overlays that create a constant sense of “what’s going to happen” on empty visuals. The audience, accustomed to Hollywood fears, finding these new generation films surprising and unsettling is quite normal. It’s a different style, and credit should be given where it’s due. The audience loves something new.

The character design in the film is quite successful. Toni Collette, portraying Annie, carries the entire story on her own. With her exaggerated and nuanced movements, she delivers a one-woman show throughout the film. The story has provided her with this opportunity. The director’s shooting technique also keeps her in the center of the frame, allowing us to watch a Toni Collette show. However, the screenplay is not as good as her performance. Hereditary is a film where characters stand in the center of the frame for a long time; we focus on empty rooms illuminated by sunbeams, tension is created through music, and less is presented as more. Until the last 20 minutes, it progresses not as a horror but as a family thriller drama. However, those last 20 minutes deserve recognition. Ruthless. It is filled with scenes where the leash is -finally- let loose. It managed to stir me, who had been -excessively- bored until that point. Then a copy-paste design is overlaid onto the entire film. It confirms the aforementioned shared style with The Witch, which has a nearly identical ending.

The film, which has no resemblance to The Conjuring, is the product of a highly successful marketing campaign. Offering nothing new, the film marks the beginning of a brand-new trend. It attempts to scare and thrill the audience with its disturbing energy and tension-inducing music of “something is coming” on empty visuals. While I appreciate its last 20 minutes, unfortunately, the final scene ruins the atmosphere of the entire film. It is highly likely that the audience, accustomed to Hollywood horrors, may appreciate the movie for its openness to novelty. It is not a familiar style. Apart from the characters’ dark sides and the concept of the world behind the occasionally attempted eerie curtain, the film falls far below my expectations. It may be a good film in a year like 2018, which experienced a shortage of horror films. However, overall, although it may be remembered as the beginning of a certain style, at least for me, it is a relatively weak film in terms of the horror genre.

Cast & Crew

director: Ari Aster

writers: Ari Aster

starring: Toni Collette, Milly Shapiro, Gabriel Byrne, Alex Wolff

USA | 2018 | 127 MINUTES |


Ukrainian Creative Director | Motion Picture Writer | Horror Freak

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