Horror is a tricky genre in cinema today.
When a supposed good one comes around, we all hear the same exaggeration: “This is the scariest movie of all-time!!” When it’s not that phrase, you usually hear people say: “That horror movie was not scary at all!”
We live in a world that is defined by extremes so it comes to no surprise that the way we see horror movies is also defined by such drastic opinions. Of course, we are all afraid of different things in life so maybe this genre should have an array of different viewpoints.
As you may have heard, a new movie by the name of ‘Hereditary’ has come around and it is being hailed not only as this year’s scariest movie but also as, “This generation’s ‘The Exorcist’.”
Yupp. A positive reaction to a horror movie does not get much more extreme than that. And of course this movie is receiving its fair amount of criticism from the public as it currently has a D+ CinemaScore.
So let me be very clear before I get into my overall review of this film. If you come into this movie expecting something like The Conjuring, Paranormal Activity, IT, or Insidious then you might as well get right up and leave the theater.
This is not a horror movie thrill-ride which employs the use of effective and fake-out jump scares to frighten you. All those movies above do that successfully and that’s great for them. They really are good scary movies, especially The Conjuring.
Hereditary on the other hand features only one, true jump scare. That’s it. And I would actually argue that this movie is considerably scarier than all of those movies previously mentioned or any other horror movie that has came out in our generation.
Yea, I’m going there.
I think Hereditary is the very first horror movie in the 21st century that can truly be compared with the all-time best in the genre. I think it does this for three reasons: 1. The masterful performance from Toni Collette (she will get an Oscar nomination) 2. The overall direction from Ari Aster 3. It made me experience true terror.
Collette carries this movie for the majority of its run time. As the mother of a family that has experienced unspeakable levels of grief and mental illness, she descends into utter hysteria, and I completely believed every second of her performance. I never once felt she was over-the-top. Instead, I thought every one of her reactions is exactly how she should have been acting.
I’ve never watched a movie with this kind of direction. Pretty much the entire movie is filmed in wide shots. As my eyes were constantly surveying the screen looking for something scary, I eventually found those scary things.
This movie is indeed a slow burn as the scary stuff gradually starts to happen. But WOW when you start noticing things, you do NOT want to look at the screen again. For full transparency, my hands started cramping during the last half of the film from holding them in front of my face.
This is where the feeling of true terror comes into play. There are two scenes that occur in this movie that I will never forget. They are just that disturbing and memorable.
One of which is what everyone will be talking about when they leave the theater. It occurs around the 30 minute mark, and it will completely emotionally break you. This movie dares to go to a place that I’ve never seen another movie go. I will not spoil anything else, but when it happens you will know.
The second is the most memorable scare in the movie, and no it was not a jump scare. When it happens my entire theater groaned in terror, and I openly cursed out loud. That’s when I knew I was watching a new classic.
My only nitpick of this movie is that I think the ending will be too “out there” for general audiences which is really a shame. This movie takes a really strong supernatural turn in the final act, and boy do they realllllly go for it.
I understood what was happening and it was not too much for me, but if you didn’t pay much attention during the film, then you will leave completely lost. This probably explains the D+ CinemaScore grade.
Hereditary deeply scared me on an emotional and mental level. To be clear, jump scares when used effectively can scare me. But what truly scares me is the type of terror that lingers within yourself. The only other time I ever left the theater feeling that type of dread after a movie was when I watched The Conjuring.
The difference is, however, that I would love to watch the Conjuring again. It’s a really good, entertaining scary movie.
Hereditary on the other hand deals with real horror in the realms of mental illness, family issues, and eventually even the supernatural. This movie made me feel absolutely terrible after watching it, and I genuinely don’t want to watch it again.
The bad news is that does not even matter, because the scenes and images I witnessed are still at the forefront of my brain and are still upsetting me.
And that is what true horror in its purest form should accomplish.
Overall score: 9.5/10