Directed by: Ari Aster
Written by: Ari Aster
“All I do is worry and slave and defend you, and all I get back is that fucking face on your face!” – Toni Collette as Annie
• • •
I haven’t written one of these in a while. In fact, I haven’t written much of anything in the past year. But Sunday night’s unbearable Academy Awards finale in which a Disney-fied look at racism took home Best Picture made me want to write out of rage. But instead of trashing “Green Book,” I want to focus on a film that actually dares to be different.
“Hereditary” wasn’t nominated for a single Oscar, but its unrelenting sense of uneasiness is unquestionably award-worthy. First-time viewers will question everything, from the opening scenes when you try to figure out how the horror will manifest, to the end credits that leave you wondering how you got there.
Do I completely understand the ending? Nope. But I was so frightened watching it that I honestly don’t care. There were extended periods of the film where I had my hands over my ears, preparing for something to jump into the frame and launch me out of my seat. But that (almost) never happened. The tension building to those moments is there, but the way the filmmakers adapt what could be stereotypical horror moments into something new and equally eerie has me so excited to watch this movie multiple times.
Toni Collette deserved an Oscar nomination. Not a hot take at all, but that needs to be said again. She was a force in “Hereditary,” but probably didn’t get the nom because of the anti-horror history of the Academy Awards. “Get Out” was a huge step for the genre, but I feel like Collette getting snubbed was a shift backwards.
I also want to give a shout out to the performance by Alex Wolff as the tortured teenage son. Everything that’s bad happens to this kid, and Wolff handles panic, apathy and despair so damn well. It’s a well-written character with a performance to match.
The best part about this movie is the scares aren’t cheap. It’s not a fun-but-predictable horror flick that you go see on the weekend with friends. “Hereditary” will challenge you and it will frighten you — just maybe not in the way that you expected.