*The following review contains spoilers. Proceed with caution.
I need to start this off by clearing the air: I do not get scared easily by horror movies.
Granted, it took a few years, but I'm very accustomed (and honestly, kind of bored) by slasher films. The "Saw" franchise is one of my favorite horror movies. I'm the first one to look under the horror section on Netflix while other people hide underneath the covers.
But "Hereditary" has placed a fear in me that I was not ready for at all.
I went in not knowing anything about the plot. My friend described it to me as "a family is cursed or something and there's a creepy girl that keeps making a tongue pop noise."
Well, alright then. Possible demon movie and a creepy child? A classic plot that can be pretty scary if executed properly, like in "The Conjuring 2" so I was pretty interested.
I'm going to review from the point of view of "before" aka before I was finally calm enough after the movie ended to piece together all the clues that were handed to me during the film and didn't exactly understand what the hell I just watched.
Okay, so the movie starts off with a dead Grandma. Typical. My guess was that she left behind some antique that was actually "cursed" and that was how the evil of the movie was going to get rolling.
OH NO, I WAS A 'LIL OFF THERE.
As we're introduced to the family, Charlie immediately gives me weird vibes. I get that she's supposed to be awkward and socially unaware and in a process of grieving, but something is up. Also, kids that can draw in scary movies are always possessed by some weird entity.
Then Charlie's habits grow increasingly odd. The tongue pop noise is kind of funny at first, but I still don't understand it. There's also a very tiny detail where she cuts the head off of a dead bird and goes to sacrifice it to her dead grandmother who she can see burning a fire in their backyard.
Totally normal kid, right?
The mother, Annie is obviously displaying some frustration at the fact that her daughter isn't "normal" and doesn't socialize with other kids. We previously found out that Annie refused to let her late mother interact with her son when she was born, but let her raise Charlie out of guilt.
The relationship with Annie and her young daughter has been strained from the start, along with her relationship with her teenage son, Peter.
Annie suffers from sleepwalking, and had an accident where she covered herself and her children in paint thinner and proceeded to light a match. She woke up just in time to prevent the fire, but there's obviously something deeper lingering within her subconscious.
Peter is your typical high school stoner, but Annie admits to trying to abort Peter when she was pregnant with him. He just wouldn't die.
Annie's secret desires become a reality (partially) when she sends Charlie off to a party with her brother where she knows there will be underage drinking. Peter sends her off to eat chocolate cake as he smokes weed with his friends and a girl he's interested in.
Suffering from a severe nut allergy, Charlie eats the cake that has nuts inside and suffers from a reaction. Peter drives her home down deserted back roads as fast as he can, as Charlie sticks her head out the window in an attempt to get some more air.
Peter swerves for an animal in a road and Charlie is decapitated by a telephone pole.
He's so shocked by what happened that he can't even turn around to look at his sister's headless body and drives home in silence, leaving her in the backseat of the car for his mother to find the next morning.
I could feel my chest sink three levels during this scene. It completely blindsided me and I sat in the theater with my mouth wide open in disbelief.
Raw, unfiltered screaming. A mother sobbing on the floor so relentlessly that I could physically feel her pain in my gut. The acting for this movie was so beyond its time, especially for a horror film, where the acting isn't always necessarily the greatest.
The rest of the movie had a terrifying aura around it. I wasn't antsy about a jump scare, even though none ever showed. I was actually clinging onto my flannel because the uncertainty of the movie was sending anxiety through my entire body.
The anxiety didn't go away. Not even when the movie ended. I had to buy a drink from a gas station and force myself to listen to music in order to finally calm down. I didn't sleep alone that night.
I am not exaggerating when I say that this is the most terrifying film I have ever seen.
And we didn't even get into the supernatural aspect of the movie yet!
Annie and Peter begin to experience frightening hallucinations that may hint to Charlie's presence haunting the house. Annie confines in a friend from her support group, who reveals that she met a medium who showed her a way to communicate with the dead.
Just read these words that are in a different language and your dead daughter can talk to you through her old sketchbook. Not sketchy at all.
Every time I think that this movie can't get more messed up, it does and I feel ready to cry and puke at the same time.
Cue more hallucinations from the mother-son duo, except this time Annie isn't having a hallucination when she finds a dead body in her attic with odd symbolism painted on the top in blood.
It's her mother's dead body from the beginning of the movie. In a fit of mass hysteria, she's convinced that burning Charlie's sketchbook would get rid of the demon but instead her husband is set on fire and burned alive right in front of her.
This movie doesn't leave anything to the imagination. The dead bodies are grotesque and right in your face. Awfully realistic to the point where I felt like I was going to hurl.
The end of the film is where everything clicked and I said "Ohhhh" but was still shaking and ready for the lights to turn back on.
Annie does the classic "possessed" stuff: banging her head, levitating, etc. Peter locks himself in the attic and witnesses his mother saw off her own head.
Movie debunked: turns out that the grandmother was in some odd cult and worshiped King Paimon, one of the eight kings of hell. The king needs a male host, but since the grandmother wasn't allowed around Peter, the demon attached itself to Charlie.
The whole movie was a series of events to transfer the demon from the female host (Charlie) to the male host (Peter), done so by Peter entering the childhood tree house to see naked strangers kneeling in submission as his sister's decapitated head is on a statue while his headless mother and grandmother kneel before it.
I don't really know how it can get any freakier than that.
The idea is kind of far fetched, but demons and cults are very much alive and the secrets that they hold could possibly be as disturbing and demented as this. I think the realism aspect and the raw acting is what makes this film so terrifying as it carries the audience through the same amount of delusion and hysteria that the family is experiencing.
There aren't enough words left in my mind to describe how messed up I still am from this film over than "Dude, please just go see it because WHAT WAS THAT?"