Divisive was the word that I heard used the most when it came to the stylistic horror film, Hereditary. That, I can understand. But what I do not understand is the underlying hate that came along with a lot of the critic reviews and feedback. Sure, they took some risks while putting this film together and may have used some questionable imagery but it was not without reason. There is purpose behind every single shot in Hereditary and some people failed to recognize this or failed to even give it a shot.
During the first viewing, I was thrown off a couple times due to some extremely graphic hard cuts and discomforting use of imagery. There were some scenes that almost felt unfinished or rough but after further review and another viewing, it ended up being some of the most impactful moments of the entire film.
For example, the hard cut to the severed head of the little girl covered in ants… Yikes. It was the last thing I was expecting, especially after the scene was completely over. The way they shot Peter reacting and processing the moment was very bizarre and almost inhuman. But then I thought… what is a human reaction to something like that? How the fuck is someone supposed to act following a horrific incident like that. He sat there for a moment, thinking about what he has done and then just casually drove off with the body still in the whip…
Again, his reaction and the events that follow become more clear as you watch and recollect on what the fuck is actually happening to this family. Slowly, we become aware of the grandmother’s body in the attic and the strange sequence of events that are tied to Peter, Charlie and Annie. We find out that the cult is pulling the strings and influencing the demon to overtake the family and find a male host.
The final 30 minutes was a treat and brought everything together so that you can have that final aha! moment. Even though that moment means realizing that under the direction of Joan, Annie has unleashed a spiritual entity onto the family that slowly drags them into the direction of total sacrifice. She burns Charlie’s book in an attempt to try and rid of the spirit, which in turn sets her husband ablaze as she then quickly begins to unravel and become overtaken by the deity, King Paimon.
Peter also begins seeing what is believed to have been the entity leading him into the trap, which is the final act. Summoning Paimon into a male host. Annie is influenced to cut her own head off and completely sacrifice herself in order to transfer Paimon into Peter, which is the end goal of Joan and the cult. One of the spookiest aspects of the film was finally realizing that all of the people at the funeral in the opening scene were the same people in and around the house during the final act. Creepy as fuck.
Overall, I was extremely fascinated by this film and I knew it was going to have a big impact on me the second I caught glimpse of the trailer months ago. I understand the hate, but encourage those to rewatch with an open mind and an understanding of the story that Ari Aster was trying to tell. There is an underlying theme of family tragedy and mental illness that is almost just as scary as the paranormal aspects of the film. I think he did an incredible job and this movie easily finds itself in my list of favorite horror flicks.
I give Hereditary 4 out of 5 stars and definitely recommend it to anyone interested in this kind of shit. It is very dark but visually and creatively compelling.
Be nice to each other.