SEMI-SPOILERS - Don't read if you really want to be super surprised!
So, I finally got a chance to watch a full length horror feature I had a true desire to watch amid my obsession with the The Handsmaid's Tale each Wednesday. As you may know, The Handsmaid's Tale is in its second season and is quite tittilating in addition to being super disturbing. Anyway, I'll blog about my new fascination with the dystopian theocracy Hulu series later and I will get on to the terrifying new film I watched last night, Hereditary. You can check out the trailer below!
Hereditary is Ari Aster's directorial debut. According to Wikipedia, "During pre-production, writer-director Ari Aster often referred to Hereditary as not a horror film but rather 'a tragedy that curdles into a nightmare." The reference website continues to state that, "Films that influenced Aster in the making of Hereditary include Rosemary's Baby, Cries & Whispers, Don't Look Now, Carrie, Ordinary People, and The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover." There are many genre words to discribe this film, so here goes!
This gritty, art-house, super-natural horror-thriller, which was also written by Ari stars Toni Collette (Annie Graham) alongside her "movie" husband (Steve Graham), who is portrayed by Gabriel Byrne. Gabriel, you're old enough to be my father, but I'd still hit it! Yes, Gabriel Byrne, you...I have a bit of a thing for Irishmen. The accent is a plus, but he doesn't have much of one in this film. Anyway, enough about my hormones. The film's family, the Grahams includes two children, little 13-year old creepy girl Charlie, (Milly Sharpiro) and Peter, her typically unremarkable older pothead brother, (Alex Wolff). Creepy Charlie, Creepy Charlie, reeeh reeeh, reeeh.
Psssst....Fans of the Handmaid's Tale...
Ann Dowd, who portrays Aunt Lydia on the Handmaid's Tale, has a vital role in this production as Joan (Joanie). Joan befriends Annie through a grief support group and since Annie doesn't seem to have any friends outside of her husband, even though Annie is reluctant, she slowly begins to embrace Joan's warmth and accepts her support, companionship, and advice. Ann Dowd is a phenomenal actress. I love her! Tony Collette is underrated, though. She had me crying 15 minutes into this film. Yeah, it began the summer solstice and we're heading to a full moon, but crying during a horror film is an almost never occurrence for me. I'm a "crier", though. It usually means I'm feeling murderous rage, but not always :). Some things just lighten the color of my blackened heart for a moment. You'll see why.
This horror masterpiece (If you don't agree, I don't care.) kicks off with the death of Ellen, Annie's mommy, who has a strangely strained realtionship with her only daughter. However, Creepy Charlie is her favorite grandchild, so Charlie is probably the only person in the whole Graham family, who actually feels a "loss" when Grandma Ellen dies. Annie feels more guilt than grief over the death of her mother. Her euology at the funeral of her mother, Ellen is the most awkward thing I've heard even amongst some in my own experiences that have been similar. She has a weird relationship with her son and the two seem to have a moderately strained relationship just kept at bey below the surface. (They are cordial to one another in a way.)
The relationship between Steve and Annie is strange, too. They are so distant with each other like they are just trying to be polite and that's about it. The other members of the family have lukewarm relations with one another, but they are slightly warmer towards Annie, the little sketching loaner, who often snacks randomly on chocolate bars at inappropriate times. She reminded me a little of Milo, if you've seen that film with the creepy little boy. Well done Milly Shapiro! We don't see as much of Charlie as the trailers might suggest that I viewed of this film before watching it myself.
You can watch the Milo trailer below. In no way am I comparing the two films, because they don't compare!!!
If the family isn't strange enough, Annie, who is an artist by trade lives in a house with her family that always seems totally absent of light. The blinds seem to always be drawn closed and the house almost seems windowless in an ongoing, permanent night. It seems that wherever the family goes when they leave the house, it's always a bright, sunshiny day. For the home of an artist, the Graham house is totally devoid of cheer or any character. The wood is dark, the blue paint in the bedrooms is bland, and it's just a strange place for an artist to live, especially since her daugher, too, is artistically inclined.
This film moves at a snailpace for about forty-five minutes, but if you can get through the joyless, strained, miserable back-story, you'll understand exactly why this oppressive atmosphere exists and why the characters are the way they are towards one another and towards outsiders. The gory ending is so worth it! If you invest forty-five minutes, you'll get it all back in dividends. The ending of Hereditary is the most disturbing thing I've seen in a long time. I felt like I was on a bad trip from which I'd never wake and I mean this in the best sense. If you liked the Babadook and the Wicker Man, think of this film as a modern mash-up of the two with a side-helping of Kubric-style darkness. Creepy Charlie's little tree-house will never be the same!
Why didn't someone call the cops sooner? Why didn't someone call the cops? Is there a reason why nobody was smart enough to call the cops?