The hype surrounding Hereditary has been hard to avoid.
Many critics have hailed it a masterpiece giving it five-star reviews, while audience comments I heard while leaving my screening included: “Worst film I’ve ever seen,” and “There’s two hours of my life that I’m never getting back!”
Clearly people – or more specifically critics and cinema-goers – are divided over this particular film. Where do I stand on it? Right now, I’m not too sure to be honest. Not since watching Jennifer Lawrence’s Mother! (the film, not the person) have I needed so much time to process what I’ve just seen on the screen.
And while I gather my thoughts, let me start by telling you what it’s about.
When Ellen passes away, her daughter’s (The Sixth Sense’s Toni Collette) family – including The Usual Suspect’s Gabriel Byrne, Alex Wolff (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle) and newcomer Milly Shapiro – begins to unravel cryptic and increasingly terrifying secrets about their ancestry. The more they discover, the more they find themselves trying to outrun the sinister fate they seem to have inherited.
There’s so much more to tell you about the plot but that would be treading on ‘spoiler’ territory.
The film is often compared to classics like The Shining and Psycho – which I don’t necessarily agree with. Those that walk into Hereditary expecting a more creatively mainstream horror like those are likely going to be disappointed.
It’s more like films such as The Witch and It Comes at Night (both also distributed by A24 films). Like those films, this is a slow burner with a real indie feel to it – a far cry from the jump-scare filled commercial horror that the trailers portray.
I can see why Hereditary is getting such mixed reviews. Positives include Oscar-nominee Collette being in fine form as the increasingly psychotic mother in the middle of the chaos that surrounds her. She is phenomenal in this role. Also, without giving too much away, I admire the fact that the writer and director Ari Aster has done something different here.
The problem is that this film is maybe a little too different. The first two acts give us a glimpse of how good a filmmaker Aster is (especially with this being his debut), with horror that genuinely gets under your skin.
And then there’s the third act. Here’s where I believe the audience split in two. The final third changes the film’s tone beyond recognition. While some have called it ‘genius’, others found it rather silly – laughing at moments that clearly weren’t meant to be perceived that way.
For me, the first hour and a half showed ingenuity. If the final forty minutes had been just as good, I’d have perhaps agreed with all those saying that this was potentially one of the ‘horrors of the century’.
In my opinion – mainly due to its final act – Hereditary’s genetic make-up meant I ‘gave up the ghost’ long before the end.
Mikey Clarke[youtube id=”V6wWKNij_1M” width=”600″ height=”350″]
Cast: Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, Ann Dowd, Mallory Bechtel & Zachary Arthur
Running Time: 2 Hrs 7 Mins
Director: Ari Aster
See Hereditary and much more at Showcase Cinema, Peterborough. Visit www.showcasecinemas.co.uk for the latest up-to-date show times. You can also join the chat on Twitter @showcasecinemas or on Facebook by searching for ‘Showcase Cinemas UK’