A couple travels to Sweden to visit a rural hometown's fabled mid-summer festival. What begins as an idyllic retreat quickly devolves into an increasingly violent and bizarre competition at the hands of a pagan cult.
When her mentally ill mother passes away, a woman named Annie (Toni Collette) and her husband (Gabriel Byrne), son (Alex Wolff) and daughter (Milly Shapiro) all mourn her loss. The family turn to different means to handle their grief, including Annie and her daughter both flirting with the supernatural. They each begin to have disturbing, otherworldly experiences linked to the sinister secrets and emotional trauma that have been passed through the generations of their family.
The makeup team would supply other severed heads and bodies, some rotted, that appear later in the film. They would also provide the production with dead bird bodies and other assorted animals for the daughter Charlie to behead. She would then carry these trophies around in a box. Also, during the shoot, Steve Newburn and crew would produce minor prosthetics for the day-to-day trauma that the characters would suffer. These would be handed off to the on-set makeup crew led by department head Greg T. Moon and key makeup artist Abigail Spencer. See more »
(at around 1h 16 mins) When Annie begins the seance with Peter and Steve, the candle on the table isn't lit but once the camera cuts away and comes back to the table, the candle is now lit with the flame clearly visible. See more »
The first minute of the closing credits is a list of vertically-scrolling names, where a random letter of each person's name is hi-lighted in a different color, then drops down to form the words of the next person's name in line. See more »
In this age of horror being very much reliant on the gimmicks and unique right hooks to the audience to get them into the seats, it's not entirely common that one sees a good old fashioned spook-house horror film.
No gimmicks. No twists. Just a film that does its absolute best to get your skin crawling, nerves tightened, and heart pounding.
'Hereditary', as you may imagine, is one of those films.
'Hereditary' is about as simple as a horror movie nowadays can come; terrible circumstances befall a seemingly ordinary family, these circumstances lead to discoveries of something terrible in their family tree, and soon enough things come apart rather quickly.
What this film excels at is all in the technicals. The performances are all beyond convincing and do the job selling the understated terror this film has to offer. Specifically, Toni Collette delivers in a manner that had even my skin crawling.
What is also noticeable when it comes to this film's strengths is the excellent cinematography. While it is perhaps not as flashy and noticeable as 'Upgrade' and its revolutionary camera-work that I raved about, this film accomplishes a more suitable sense of suspense and nerve-wracking tension through it. Whether in-motion or standing completely still, the camera makes itself apparent in this film and works beyond effectively.
The only thing of it is, this film is not for you if you prefer a straightforward and conventional horror film. The first act is very much a slow burn, while the rest of the film builds its horror and tension in ways that I do not believe a general audience would appreciate quite as much. It's not abstract, but considering it lacks the conventions of jumpscares and instead relies on atmosphere, mood, and its performances to scare...that perhaps explains a bit why the film is striking the general audience as so polarizing.
But, if you can appreciate a slow, creepy, atmospheric film that aims directly to make your skin crawl and make you shuffle in your seat, I think you'll truly enjoy the ride this film takes you on.
Unconventional, scary as hell, but perhaps not perfect in what it aspires to do, 'Hereditary' is still a scary time for all the right reasons.
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