• 28 Jul - 03 Aug, 2018
  • Kamran Jawaid
  • Reviews

Hereditary, the new horror movie on the block, has the right concoction of dark ambiance and weird quirks that envelops and lets the ominous grip tighten. The movie is fittingly true to its hype.

Hereditary does not rely heavily on scare tactics. Rather, it keeps the audience guessing on the sanity or insanity of its characters. The weight and the psychological integrity are main pieces of the puzzle that gets solved with relevant ease as the story moves toward the climax. But before that, debutant director/writer Ari Aster doesn’t let the audience in on the secret of how much is really happening to whom. The movie is essentially played out as part of a twisted nightmare.

Opening with a family living in the outskirts of a town in relative seclusion, the family is seen getting ready for a funeral of an elderly woman named Ellen. She was the mother of Annie (Tony Collette) who surmises her estrange relationship with her mother in the eulogy. To her, her mother was “secretive, suspicious”. The funeral’s guests are made up of mostly unknown people.

Annie, herself can be taken as “secretive” and “suspicious” – she is an artist and makes miniature set pieces and figurines alone in her home-based workshop. The home’s sane voice of reason is Steve (Gabriel Byrne), Annie’s psychiatrist husband. They have two children. The teenage son Peter (Alex Wolff), is an average teen mostly dressed in black who is set on getting a girlfriend. Her daughter Charlie (Milly Shapiro), needs more supervision, because she has a tendency to wander off. Charlie is also disassociated with human interaction and is also told to have been attached to her late grandmother.

Not revealing any spoilers, the movie relies heavily on the surprising twists and creepy moments of character explorations, and not bump-into-the-night horror. It then layers on the many stages of emotional trauma and the weakness of the human mind in them. The movie moves around these themes, lending it an air of a psychological drama, and only settles into a supernatural horror by the end quarter of its run.

Hereditary is uniformly well-acted with standout performances by Collette, who has always been an excellent actor and again hits it out of the ground. Director Aster gets full point for the ambiance, and feeding the right emotion at the right time for reaction of confusion and dread.

However, he also makes things obvious – nobody should have doubted what a particular cake is going to do in the movie, especially after the amount of nut chopping is shown on-screen (I won’t tell what that is).

Talking of obviousness, a hastily explained logic and reason before the climax blows away some of the built-up ambiance.

Even with these hiccups, the psychological connotations and dread filled the tone of Hereditary.•