2 ½ (out of 4)
Though stocked with generic elements spanning many spectrums of horror – family tragedy, creepy kids, occultism and the threat of the supernatural – Hereditary's pulse-blended pastiche is deeply unnerving, particularly in key moments harrowing drama and existential dread that stick with you.
That said, for as bleak and freaky as the film gets, there’s no denying that the movie's generous running time, overambitious mixture of styles and unreasonably divisive ending keep this A24 horror joint closer to the disappointments of It Comes at Night and The Blackcoat's Daughter than something as exceptionally beautiful as The Witch. There’s undeniable artistry and intelligent filmmaking choices throughout, but Hereditary's slow-burning deliberation feels calculated rather than necessary. The film's final destination is so removed from its origin point simply by cheating its way to demons and ghouls with the bait and switch of its title.
Still, Toni Collette is remarkable as ever and the film, especially in its first two thirds, is relentlessly creepy and littered with fine details. But these assets never play out to proper fruition, and for as bonkers as the ending is, what's behind the curtain is a pretty familiar trope. The finale bewilders in a false sense by trying too hard to synthesize reality with the supernatural. By far the best scenes of Hereditary are the tense familial situations – the spooky shit isn't as consistently provocative.
As a proficiently executed horror hodgepodge, Hereditary is a work of middling mastery. But this dynamic film is a sure cut above the mainstream, jump-scare-laden treacle – Ari Aster shows unmatched promise here but his burgeoning gifts get the better of him.
To keep it brief...
Soon to Come:
Hell Fest, Venom
and A Star is Born