Hereditary (2018) – A Hidden Life

“Hereditary” is about the Graham family, but they are a doll in a miniature made by Annie Graham (Toni Collette). As a metaphor, this film can’t be separated from a reflection. What if a family has been in control by another group? Is it an illusion or is this just a nightmare? But, I expect more than this because this isn’t a horror movie which relies too much on jumpscare. No, it’s not that kind of movies I want to watch.

The camera is zoomed in one of the miniature rooms. Ari Aster takes us into a room and then the room contains real people. We meet the son, Peter (Alex Wolff), and the husband, Steve (Gabriel Byrne). Peter is a teenager and Steve is a father full of thoughts. Soon, we get to know this one family and most importantly, Charlie (Milly Shapiro), the daughter. They were preparing to take care of the grandmother funeral. Annie admitted she didn’t feel the least bit sad because, in fact, she was never close to her mother.

Annie’s mother has an unpredictable characteristic, a kind of influence but vague. Annie’s family has a lot of history and psychology. It then leads to an odd death. However, the record is a legacy for Annie and also her family. When an unexpected tragedy arises, they gradually fall into a ravine. Unable to deny the fact, it turns out, they have long been controlled by a group; a group they even didn’t really know it.

“Hereditary” is one of the most horrifying films that every horror film never touches on the same level as this film. There are many similar elements and vibes on it and you can compare this movie to everything you can call it horror. It has “The Exorcist, “The Shining”, “The Witch”, and horror film vibes in general. But, it’s really hard when talking about horror movies because I’ve seen a lot of horror films. Indeed, I just don’t want to watch them. Not because of fear but feel bored with a repetitive format. Ari Aster understands what the horror genre really is, not about jumpscare. It’s about how do you compile all sets with well-cinematography, well-performance, and well-executed.

Although the movie alone follows a similar format like a cult or forbidden sect, “Hereditary” is able to define its ending and its characters, not just put gimmick frames or “scary” tones. The plot is able to conclude what we really feel with this family. Not only we afraid of ghosts, but we feel how this movie throws me a lot besides it gave me shiver. I remember how Toni Collate’s Annie cried to the point she just wanted to die when she saw her daughter just died. I remember how Alex Wolff’s Peter tried to be possessed by wild spirits or I also remember how his feeling and pressure because of his action.

Ari Aster understands everything, understands what horror really is, and understands how to scare his audience with just the sound of a tongue click. “Hereditary” is so thick with supernatural elements besides I prefer to call this film as a psychological horror movie. What you always think about the horror tropes, in general, isn’t much different from how scary the film is. This film allows its audience to not make a view when they see something disgusting even it’s just a little tiny detail. Quite often, you have to hold your breath but you have to hear one of the most jarring scores in horror movies.

Of course, horror is subjective. I could be afraid of appearances, jumpscare, or even a black font on a white wall but not with this film. “Hereditary” is not only a “horror” movie but it’s deal with one of the most real things we always come across. The movie as well is about tragedy, how we have to deal with pain, loss, reality, and grief. The movie often comes with a family tragedy drama, the dinner scene reminds me a lot with “American Beauty“. All of these characters deal with pain and sorrow. Annie has to deal and move on with her past. Steve has to deal with and balance his family again. And Peter must deal with his psychology and pressure of what he has done. The movie kinds of makes you cry when the movie talks about reality.

Everything in this movie was jarring, the performance, the score, the sound effect, the cinematography, everything. Alex Wolff is just amazingly terrifying, accentuating a determination by crying. He banging his nose on the table and running scared from the pursuit of his mother and supernatural. The same as Milly Saphireo, her role is sold in this one, so disturbing, without words, just a game of expression and gesture regardless she got a small screen. But, it’s just a shame Oscar didn’t really give anything to Toni Collette even for a nomination. I’m just glad I don’t know anymore why Oscar also never understands what animation really is.

Collette is an over-the-top actress, showing her genuine expression but still finding a balance point between the character and herself. Whether when it comes to the dinner scene or anything, she plays two characters. She also gave us more exposition than other characters, through exposure to dialogue, and stories. I listened to everything, saw everything Annie saw and witnessed cause and effect firsthand. I care about everything, I care about the elements of the exposition in this film, as well as with all of the characters.

“Hereditary” is a pure horror movie, a rare film where we never get another true horror film but this is one of them. Ari Aster doesn’t play in the mainstream realm or in any safe way. There is passion, idealism, treatment, and artsy as well. Family tragedy, drama, this movie will make you cry and be afraid at the same time. This is an art-house movie, a great production by one of the independent companies, A24.

4.5 out of 5 stars.