HOLLYWOOD—I love a good scary flick, I like a movie that takes the audience on such a rollercoaster ride you have absolutely NO IDEA and I mean NO IDEA where things are headed. Well, if you’re in for a thrill-a-minute the film “Hereditary” delivers on multiple fronts. Let me be clear, I would not call “Hereditary” a full-blown horror flick; I am more inclined to categorize it as a supernatural thriller. There are reasons for that which would quite frankly take an entire column to explain the difference so let’s not digress. The narrative follows Annie Graham (Toni Collette) and her family as they deal with the death of Ellen, Annie’s mother.
This is what I love about this movie. “Hereditary” delivers very small facts about Ellen’s demise, and as the story moves along more and more details about this mysterious woman and her impact on her family come to light. The title speaks wonders, and it becomes critical to understand that Ellen family has a history of mental illness and that has passed down to her daughter and to her grandchildren. Charlie (Milly Shapiro), Annie’s daughter is precocious, but is harboring some troubling symptoms. If that scene with the pigeon doesn’t unnerve you in the theater seat, you have no soul America.
The more the audience learns about Annie and her family; it becomes evident that Ellen’s secret lifestyle is haunting her family from beyond the grave. We see fractures between Ellen and her son Peter (Alex Wolff), as well as her husband Steve (Gabriel Byrne). Sleep-walking, PTSD, hallucinations are just some of the mental illnesses the Graham family endures as a result of Ellen’s untimely demise and her behind the scenes antics. The scary aspect of this movie is that the audience becomes enthralled in this narrative; you become attached to these characters and their plight.
There are elements of witchcraft and demons that take a flick that may have first appeared to be about the haunting of ghost into a darker dimension. Collette is fantastic in this multi-layered role that screams awards contention. She showcased her acting capabilities with the 1999 thriller “The Sixth Sense,” but this film takes elements of that movie and heightens them to unnerve the soul. “Hereditary” finds a way to get into your psyche, and question your family history and genetic links. We all know that genetics play a major role in various medical links when it comes to family, but that also applies to mental illness.
This haunting tale is crafted by writer and director Ari Aster who paces the suspense in such a way that it’s palpitating and leaves the heart at a feverish pitch. The characters are well-developed, the story is invigorating and some of the twists in this flick left me floored. To say I was shocked would be an understatement, but it proves slowly building the tension can have a major payoff in the end. “Hereditary” is a phenomenal movie that proves the more you know about your family history the better in the long run.