Note: This is a spoiler-free Hereditary movie review
While horror is its own movie genre, it’s also a genre that has plenty of sub-genres. You don’t often talk to someone who is just a straight “horror” fan. People are often a fan of gore, “jumpy” thrills, monsters, sinister plots, or [redacted] clowns. One or the other. Not all of them.
I mention this because Hereditary may be for some, but it sure as hell isn’t for everybody.
Hereditary brings it with over-the-top suspense and gruesome scenes, but lacks in story, acting, and continuity.
I’m not sure it can be understated just how grisly the film is. It’s almost as if everything involved with the movie asked each other, “What’s the furthest we can take this scene to get a maximum audience reaction? Yeah, let’s take it one step further than that.”
Dis-membered heads. Crooked bodies. People being burned alive. Hereditary has all that, and more, just for you. There aren’t a huge number of these scenes, but when they come you can feel them. They’re also “in your face” in a way that it would feel like too much if there was any more of it.
In fact, the strongest aspect of the film is the mix of gruesome scenes and the suspense leading up to them.
Whenever you’re not getting shock value, you’re waiting for the next moment when it will come. Credit to the writing and directing for finding the right combination.
You can always tell a movie has quality suspense when people start talking to the screen in a full theater. “Oh hell no”, “She crazy”, and “TURN AROUND” are just a few phrases heard in a Hereditary theater. Not to mention the screams when the payoff comes. A lot of the scenes are quiet with very little dialogue, which makes you want to jump out of your seat. Kudos to writer and director Ari Aster for that.
The biggest hole in Hereditary is the storyline, and it’s a glaring one. I found the story really hard to follow. It feels like a lot of things are happening at once and they never really come together. I guess everything going on falls within the “supernatural” category, but it’s still all over the place and there isn’t really one, linear plot. This is a missed opportunity to get the audience invested in characters and keep them engaged, in my opinion.
Speaking of audience reaction, there was also some audible laughter in my screening of Hereditary. And this ain’t no comedy film. Unfortunately, a lot of this can be attributed to the acting in the film. There are more than a few quality actors in the film, but in this particular case, everyone is just overdoing it.
It’s clear what Aster is directing his actors to do. He’s looking for the Sinister-like thrill reactions, so he wants the characters to evoke that in the audience. The effort is there; it just comes off as forced on the screen.
Should I Go See Hereditary?
The thrills are there, the story is not. If you’re looking for the gruesome, suspenseful thriller then Hereditary is right up your alley. Otherwise, the over-the-top acting and lack of a story make this one avoidable.
(Featured Image via A24)