Saturday, May 18, 2019


Hereditary (2018)

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A woman (Toni Collette) seems to be haunted by the ghost of her mother following her death. Or is she just succumbing to the mental illness that apparently runs in her family? Either way, things are strained with her husband (Gabriel Byrne) and two children (Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro). This is basically the prototype example of "grieving mom horror", which should be a recognized sub-genre if it isn't already.


  • The dialogue is really good - from a scene of students clumsily answering questions about the themes of (I think) Women of Trachis, to the multiple passive aggressive every day interactions between Toni Collette and everybody else in the movie, the writing is incredibly realistic while also conveying a lot of information about the characters (+2)
  • Toni Collette is absolutely fucking great in this movie. Her grief and her anger are palpable. I sometimes like to complain about "slow burn" horror because a lot of the time it sacrifices character for mood. I don't like spending a lot of time with a poorly developed or uninteresting character on top of nothing really happening. This movie doesn't do that - Toni Collette's performance is so engrossing that the drama of the movie is fascinating even when there isn't much horror stuff happening (+2)
  • The other lead actors in the movie are also great - their fear, anxiety, frustration, is really well evoked (+1)
  • Not only is Toni Collette's acting mind-blowing, her character is also really interesting. Information is revealed slowly but it's like her backstory keeps getting more and more fucked up throughout the movie but it never seems like overkill (+1)
  • The dysfunction of the family is uncomfortably realistic, from the ineffective father, to the kind of dingus son, to the slightly scary daughter. (+2)
  • The movie goes in some... surprising directions. I won't say any more about it except that I was shook on no less than two occasions (+1)
  • So many decapitations. Even a pigeon gets decapitated. (+1)
  • The house they live in is really pretty. One of my favourite things about ghost/haunted house movies is the houses, man, they sure are great (+1)
  • Ants (+1)
  • Seances in movies really freak me out, probably because there are ghosts involved and I'm irrationally afraid of ghosts. It's weird because I would be totally okay with doing a seance in real life - in my rational daytime brain I understand that ghosts won't actually get me if I do a seance, but in my nighttime movie-watching brain, I am filled with fear (+1)
  • Overall, the movie is effectively creepy - it has approximately zero jumpscares and it's still scary as shit (+2)
  • And there's sort of a happy ending so that's cool (+1)
Total: +16

  • One of my personal pet peeves is the use of mental illness to explain scary shit in horror movies, especially dissociative identity disorder, a disorder that's very often grossly misrepresented in media leading to fear and apprehension towards people who actually have it. On the other hand the movie implies pretty heavily that the central family is not, in fact, suffering from mental illness at all, and maybe they were just diagnosed with certain disorders because nobody knew what to do with them. I'm going to split the difference with a half point. (-0.5)
  • How come people in these movies never seem to have regular jobs? Toni Collette's character is an artist who makes really fancy dollhouses or dioramas or something. Gabriel Byrne does fuck knows what. Just once I want to see a sublime horror film where the main character is like "can't deal with demons today, I'm late for my shift at Burger King" (-1)
  • Nearly every single shot in the movie is perfectly symmetrical. Like, there's a doorway or a person or a telephone pole or whatever right dead centre of the shot. I'm sure given the tone of the movie that that has some symbolic relevance but it was visually monotonous. (-1)
  • Similarly, approximately half of the scene transitions are crossfades which is wholly unnecessary (-1)
  • There's a dog in the movie that shows up in like two scenes and then disappears for the rest of the time. Where is the dog? What happened to the dog? Why isn't the dog there? Also I think the dog died because there's what looks like a dead dog in one shot but it's sort of hard to see but I'm deducting partial points for possible dogslaughter (-1.5)
  • I don't understand how people in horror movies can just walk around their houses with all the lights off. There's one part where some weird shit has gone down and the son wakes up all alone, and he's scared, so he starts walking around the house in the dark. Man, I turned every light in my house on as soon as this movie finished and I have the awareness that this was just a movie (-1) 
  • Honestly, I wanted to nitpick this movie more but all of the shitty loose threads I had jotted down got resolved in the end, everything that seemed out of place was there for a reason, and what seemed to come out of left field was very cleverly foreshadowed early on. (+1)
Total: -5

Final Score: 11 thumbs up


This was all around a really good movie. It might not be for everyone - those who prefer movies where stuff happens at a fairly constant rate throughout probably won't be very entertained by this. But if you're into moody, atmospheric horror, or really engaging family dramas, this is worth watching.

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