Currently, I am writing this review the morning after seeing "Hereditary" as I can't sleep recalling some of the horrifying details of the film. There are a few scenes, especially late at night during sleep, that are deeply haunting. It's been a long while since a movie has affected me like this, and that's why I'm so impressed with "Hereditary".
"Hereditary" is directed by Ari Aster and stars Toni Collette, Milly Shapiro, Gabriel Byrne and Alex Wolff (yes, the Alex Wolff from "Naked Brothers Band" on Nickelodeon. Yep.) The performances in this film are downright excellent, especially from breakout star Milly Shapiro. While her performance emanates innocence, there's still an implicit horror that oozes off the screen. Her facial expressions, voice, and mannerisms are perfect for a child horror star. Ari Aster also crafts shots that are perfect for Shapiro. I found Wolff's performance to also be incredibly deep, and it's evident he's come a long way since his adolescent days on Nickelodeon.
In terms of plot, without spoiling anything, "Hereditary" is a supernatural horror film in which the main character, Annie, must deal with her mother's expected death but realizes how private her mother was, seeing many faces she had never seen before at her mother's funeral. Not just this, but her reclusive, disturbed daughter struggles to become socially normal, and doesn't frequently interact with other kids her age. Obviously, I'm not going to spoil anything about this film, but everything goes haywire from there.
I went into this film knowing almost nothing about it (the trailers don't say a whole lot,) and I found this to be the more preferable option. For that reason, it's hard to talk about the film's merits, because the writing is simply ingenious. There are plot points that you'd never expect and the narrative intertwines into an amazing story that is unimaginably horrifying.
However, I think that most terrifying part of "Hereditary" lies within the amazing camerawork and perfectly crafted shots. Typically, I don't really consider this horror. I consider gruesome images part of a partially ineffective, topical scare tactic, but in "Hereditary," it's meshed in with the amazing narrative. There are shots that linger with no music, shots that are gruesome, shots that leave your jaw on the floor. I really wish I could explain to you why these shots are so jaw-dropping, but you MUST see the film for yourself to fully understand.
This, coupled with an amazing narrative, It's one of the best horrors in recent memory. As a 20-year old adult, I haven't literally lost sleep over a movie since I first saw "Nightmare On Elm Street" in 2nd grade, and "Hereditary" broke that streak.
Behind a horrifying, original, yet challenging narrative, terrifying visuals, and an outstanding job by the film's ensemble of actors, "Hereditary" has established itself as a horror classic. If you like scary movies or being challenged by movies in any right, give the films a shot.