"Oh no, I feel my Ambien kicking in ... I hope I don't go on social media and type something racist!" (Toni Collette) in a scene from writer/director Ari Aster's thriller Hereditary. Credit: A24. All rights reserved.


KEY CAST MEMBERS: Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro with Ann Dowd and Gabriel Byrne

WRITER(S): Ari Aster

DIRECTOR(S): Ari Aster


HERE'S THE STORY: Annie Graham (Toni Collette) is a relatively happy wife to her husband (Gabriel Byrne) and mother to her children Charlie (Milly Shapiro) and son Peter (Alex Wolff). But when Annie's mother passes away, she starts to notice some strange – and after an unexpected tragedy, stranger – things happening around the house. These events have an adverse affect on Annie to say the least, her children even more so. 

But once she meets a woman named Joan (Ann Dowd) who has endured a similar loss in her life, Annie thinks she may have found a way to alleviate her pain and suffering. Little does she know, however, that the worst may be yet to come ...

WHO WILL LIKE THIS FILM THE MOST? Toni Collette fans; 70s psychological thriller fans; people who found  The Killing of a Sacred Deer enjoyable; anyone who likes a film with a very slow build

WHO WON'T (OR SHOULDN'T) LIKE THIS MOVIE? People who hate movies riddled with plot holes; Gabriel Byrne fans; those looking for a bigger payoff at the film's apex/climax; those with short attention spans; blood and gore horror fans

SO IS IT GOOD, BAD OR JUST AWFUL? A24, the studio responsible for releasing Hereditary, has put out several films I've really liked a lot: Good Time, RoomA Ghost Story and The Disaster Artist among them. They even had two wins for Best Picture at the Academy Awards for Room and Moonlight

They have also put out several films I did not enjoy and one I ab-so-lute-ly loathe, 2017's Cincinnati-based The Killing of a Sacred Deer. (Seriously, it's been a year and I'm STILL NOT over that movie.) From the long-forgotten Woodshock to It Comes at Night and Life After Beth, the studio has not, however, had much success making thrillers/horror movies.

Guess what? Hereditary isn't going to do anything to break that streak – for the 2 hour, 7 minute film is boring for about 90 minutes and incomprehensible for the remaining time.

For his first feature, writer/director Ari Aster shows he's studied 1970s psychological thrillers long and hard; his camera pans slowly and purposefully, his actors break down on their own convincingly and he's great at setting moods. What is not so great at, however, is making any of those things pay off once established.

Collette's character follows the path you'd expect from the opening funeral sequence ... Until it completely goes off the rails in the film's final (and key) act, her actions making NOT ONE lick of sense based on the previous development of her character. Throw in a MAJOR character problem with the sister in regards to the larger overall story – I avoid spoilers but let's just say there is nothing "hereditary" about her situation in relation to the film's apex – and scenes that just drag ... and drag ... and drag on for a "well, who didn't see that coming?" moment far too often and the movie just never engages its audience. Instead, it just exists to exist for its own sake. You'll care enough to find out what happens, you just won't care why unless you are unequivocally 100% into the movie – which may be hard to be when there are plot holes left and right (why does Byrne's character have to go through what he goes through to get to the end goal, why does Collette go from 0 to 100 after such a long period of resistance to doing so, etc.) that it's nearly impossible to be vested from anything than more of a standpoint of general "what's going to happen" not "Oh no – what's going to happen?!"

Now, a lot of people will praise the creepy mood setting and the performance of Collette, others will notice the heavy-handed dialogue, the reliance of stock shock movie moments and again, a character change THAT MAKES NO SENSE BASED ON EVERYTHING WE WATCH FOR THE MAJORITY OF THE FILM! If you're into watching the movie for subtext of a man with angst, a wife and mother struggling to be good to her children while struggling with her own anxieties and two kids (one who's a burnout, the other a creepy kid being, well, just creepy), well then by all means jump in.

Here's what I suggest happens: Finding a better movie to watch – or at least one that doesn't feel like a well-intentioned but bad homage to much better films of its ilk.



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