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Hereditary (2018) Poster

(2018)

Trivia

Jump to: Spoilers (25)
Toni Collette had told her agent that she didn't want to do any more heavy, dark films and only wanted to do comedies, but she loved the Hereditary script so much she couldn't turn it down.
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Ari wanted to go for scares that were emotionally justified, rather than leaning solely on traditional horror scare-jumps.
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According to Alex Wolff, the original cut of the film could have easily pushed over 3 hours. Mostly consisting of more family dialog.
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To make the chalkboard write on itself, the special effects team put a magnet in the chalk and put a magnet on the other side of the chalkboard to make the chalk move--it was very difficult to get a small magnet inside the chalk and make it write smoothly.
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Ari wanted any effect that could be done practically to be done that way, instead of in post production.
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Director Cameo (Ari Aster): the voice on the phone calling Annie about her exhibit date at the Archer Gallery.
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Toni Collette has called Ari Aster the most prepared director she's ever worked with.
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The producer said that it worked out well that Gabriel and Alex had worked together, and Alex and Milly knew each other from school, because it made Toni the outsider, which mirrored Annie's character and feelings of alienation within her own family.
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The entire interior of the Graham house was built on a sound stage.
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Aster wrote detailed biographies and backstories for all of the characters before even writing the screenplay.
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Ari requested that Alex and Milly went out to eat in character a few times, and they would sit for up to three hours in silence while Milly wouldn't speak and Alex would try to get her to talk.
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In Peter's first scene at school, the words "Escaping Fate" is on the chalkboard with the teacher discussing it. This is a reference to Halloween (1978), where the main character discusses the same thing in class. Appropriately, this movie was released the same day as the trailer for Halloween (2018).
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This film is director Ari Aster's feature debut.
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The film was shot in 32 days.
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Ari liked Utah for the film because he thought its mountains are beautiful and breathtaking, but also menacing and ominous.
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Ari Aster was heavily influenced by the film The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover (1989).
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Many of the cast and crew view the film as a family drama more than a horror movie.
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The special effects team had to learn how to do effects they'd never done before, such as making a candle light itself.
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The house was constructed completely on sets on a soundstage in Utah in order to follow Aster's shot list. They needed to be able to remove walls and ceilings in order to shoot the rooms to look exactly like the miniatures.
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Toni Collette (Annie) is 22 years younger than her on-screen husband, Gabriel Byrne.
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Hereditary is inspired by an apparent curse over Aster's family that seemed to bring them bad luck over a three-year period.
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For Ari, Hereditary is equally inspired by family dramas (Ordinary People, The Ice Storm, In the Bedroom) as it is by classic horror films (Rosemary's Baby, Don't Look Now, The Innocents).
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This was the fourth A24 movie to get a wide release after The Witch (2015), Free Fire (2016) and It Comes at Night (2017).
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Colin found inspiration for the score through the sounds of "water and animals while walking around in pitch-black night."
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Ari has 10 screenplays written he hopes to direct over the course of his career.
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Production designer Grace Yun did research on pagan rituals and cults to prepare for designing the sets.
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The primary direction Ari gave Colin for the score was to make it "feel evil."
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Toni stated that she went to the gym a lot during shooting because she needed to be moving around during such an arduous filming process.
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Both Alex Wolff and Milly Shapiro attended Professional Children's School, and already knew each other before the film.
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Production designer had to work simultaneously with miniaturist to ensure the Graham house and the miniature house were exactly the same.
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Toni said one of her most memorable moments on set was being doused in water fully clothed for the paint thinner scene.
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Gabriel Byrne played Alex Wolff's dad previously in the HBO TV show In Treatment-- they have joked that every seven years they're going to play father and son.
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The movie contains around 85 minutes of music, and Colin worked 16-hour days at times in order to complete it.
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Alex Wolff said that Gabriel Byrne is one of his favorite people he's ever gotten to work with.
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Alex said that this film was more demanding than anything he'd ever done.
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Production designer wanted to play with the idea of "sacred geometry"--triangle (Annie, Peter, Charlie), square (introduces Steve's character, home, groundedness), circle (infinite, genesis, Ellen) - all different shapes embedded within the design of the set. If you look closely, the second floor hallway has squares and triangles carved into it.
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With Hereditary, Ari Aster wanted to, with his own words, "make a film about suffering that took suffering seriously".
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Alex and Milly also had to go out in character and buy Milly a sweatshirt, and Alex had to figure out what kind of sweatshirt she wanted.
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Aster started building a network of potential collaborators for this film years before the project had been greenlit.
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Toni doesn't actually like scary movies.
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Colin Stetson, the composer and a saxophonist, has toured with Arcade Fire, Bon Iver, TV On the Radio, Tom Waits.
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Alex Wolff is a huge horror movie buff.
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Filmed in Utah Film Studios in Park City Utah
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Hereditary is the first film Milly Shapiro has ever been in.
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The film premiered on January 21, 2018 at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival in the Midnight section.
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Aster also designed a 75-page shot list for the cinematography before they even had locations scouted.
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Once they found the cemetery surrounded by snow peak mountains, they knew they had found the location for the film.
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Ari has been writing screenplays from a very young age, but eventually realized he would want to be the one to direct what he'd written.
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Colin saw the score as its own character in the film.
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Aster regularly listened to composer Colin Stetson's earlier music while he was writing the script.
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With the definition of its maker, Ari Aster, Hereditary is a film about suffering.
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Colin used his own vocals in his score.
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Director of photography Pawel Pogorzelski was Aster's classmate at the American Film Institute Conservatory.
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Toni Collete and Alex Wolff share a birthday (November 1)
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The production designer designed pieces for the house that were meant to be pieces from Annie's previous art collections.
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Aster reached out to composer Colin Stetson two years prior to production.
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The production designer also used Utah, where the film was shot, as inspiration for the set.
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Hereditary's production designer and costume designer also worked on A24's First Reformed.
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Toni Collette and Alex Wolff share the same Birthday.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

In an interview, Alex Wolff explains that he wanted to actually break his own nose for the scene where his character slams his head into a desk. Director Ari Aster respectfully declined that offer and told Wolff they'd give him a soft, cushioned desk for the scene. When it was time for the scene to be shot, Wolff slams his head into the desk only to discover that the top was foam and the bottom was hard. He dislocated his jaw (which is a previous injury the actor has had) for the scene.
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During the support meeting, Annie recounts her brother's suicide at age 16, and states that his suicide note blamed their mother (Ellen) for "putting people inside him." Though Annie chalks this up to his schizophrenia, it could very well be that Ellen originally attempted to conjure Paimon through her own son. His death (and her failure to summon Paimon) would then explain why Ellen put so much pressure on Annie to have children, and why Charlie stated early on in the film that her grandmother wished she was a boy.
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The language spoken during the "invocation" that is given to Annie is a combination of Hebrew and Enochian.
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In the art store parking lot scene, the chalkboard is shown still packaged in Joan's car, showing that she had just purchased it that day prior to showing Annie the seance.
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When Peter and Charlie are on their way to the party, the cult's logo can be seen carved into the pole that later decapitates Charlie.
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Toni wore a prosthetic neck and used an actual piano string for the scene where she saws her head off.
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Throughout the film, several words can be seen scrawled on walls. At one point, there are two words, LIFTOACH PANDEMONIUM. Liftoach is an English transliteration of the Hebrew word 'To open', Pandemonium is Latin for All Demons and is what Satan names Hell in Milton's Paradise Lost.
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During the party scene, just as Peter enters the bedroom to smoke pot, some kids are watching a black and white video on a laptop of someone being beheaded on a guillotine - foreshadowing the film's multiple beheadings.
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The script was originally written to take place in a snowy landscape in the mountains, but due to cast availability they had to shoot in May/June, so they decided to "embrace the green" and look at the lush, green, springtime as emblematic of the awakening and rebirth of the cult.
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Charlie's diorama in the film shows headless figurines bowing to a pigeon-headed creature with a crown on its head--very similar to the ending scene of the film.
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Milly's most memorable moment was her stunt scene during the car accident where she was tethered to the car going 30 mph while she was hanging out of it--said it felt like a roller coaster.
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At the end when the life-sized figurine of the demon Paimon is shown, the fingers of its right hand are positioned in a way that Jesus is often portrayed as doing in medieval paintings (pointer finger and middle finger out and together, other two fingers curled in a fist, and thumb parallel but slightly curved), but on Paimon, he's holding it upside down. The medieval and ancient hand gesture is used as a representation of Jesus, so like crosses being inverted, Paimon is using this to disrespect Jesus. Also, Paimon is wearing a halo with rays coming out of it like a sun. This halo is also seen in depictions of Jesus, thus meaning those worshiping Paimon believe he is the true savior.
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Charlie is eating a Dove candy bar when she cuts off the bird's head.
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The ominous song at the end of the film is a special rendition of a song called "Zadok the Priest", written by George Frideric Handel in 1727 for the coronation of King George II.
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The filmmakers had to fireproof almost everything in the room (furniture, walls, wardrobe) during the scene where Steve lights on fire.
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The smiling man from the grandmother's funeral can be seen in a dark doorway towards the end of the movie.
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Annie's mother Ellen likely tried to summon Paimon through her son Charles before his suicide, which is why he claimed she was trying to put people inside of him and was misdiagnosed with schizophrenia. Charlie was the reincarnation of Paimon, and shared a similar name with her uncle.
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During the therapy session Annie tells of a troubled family history that she had largely kept to herself, because she did not want to "put more stress on the family". It is suggested that the family had been under the influence of the cult for a long time and hence that Annie was the one suffering for the longest time. During the films finale, Peter gets to see with his own eyes what had been manipulating his mother all those years. The song playing over the end credits, "Both sides now", thematically relates to this series of events. The song contains the line "I've looked at life from both sides now" which could suggest, that Peter was now able to see things from his mother's point of view. The song also contains the line "Tears and fears and feeling proud, to say I love you right out loud" which could suggest, that Peter finally understood that his mother actually did care for him and now was able to return those feelings, in spite of all he had been put through.
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One way that Ari Aster pitched the film when he was first taking it out was "it's a story about a long-lived possession ritual told from the perspective of the sacrificial lamb."
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Early in the film, Charlie cuts off an already-dead pigeon's head outside her school. This foreshadows Charlie's accidental decapitation, and the beheading of several other characters.
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In an early scene, the subject of free will is discussed while mentioning one of Sophocles' plays. In the same vein, Ari Aster states that the Graham Family has no free will on the events that are taking place. For Aster, the film is very Greek in that sense and the way things turn out is absolutely inevitable, the family has absolutely no agency. And that's where the dollhouses came in. Annie creates these miniature figures and dollhouses and they served as a perfect metaphor for the situation; they're dolls in a dollhouse being manipulated by outside forces. Any control they try to seize is hopeless.
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According to Ari Aster, with Hereditary, he wanted to make a film about the corrosive effects of trauma on a family unit and he also knew that he wanted to make a film that had sort of an ouroboros quality about a family that's basically eating itself in its grief. Ultimately, Hereditary is a film that was seriously tackling these issues and operating almost as a meditation on these things, while at the same time functioning as an exciting genre film that hopefully delivers.
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In one of the scenes in Peter's classroom, the teacher is talking about the sacrifice of Iphigenia, Agamemnon's daughter. Both Iphigenia and Charlie are daughters who were sacrificed in hopes of bringing forth a great event; one being victory against the Trojans and the other the bringing forth of Paimon.
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For Ari Aster, the film itself is a running metaphor for family trauma and grief. It is operating all the way through and at the end, the movie is still about how trauma can utterly transform a person, and not necessarily for the better.
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Annie Graham (Toni Collette) says her mom had Disassociative Identity Disorder, a condition which was the theme of Collette's Showtime series The United States of Tara.
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See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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