Nature vs Nurture: A review of “Hereditary”

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Rating: ★★★★

As the classic saying goes… if you haven’t heard of Hereditary by now you’ve probably been living under a rock. It’s everywhere at the moment; on buses and billboards, plastered over film blogs and magazines, you name it, it’s there. It’s this season’s hottest horror film, with critics even branding it the “scariest thing they’ve ever seen”. Critical reception has been largely positive, which made me a little nervous before I went to see it for myself. When a film is this hyped up in mainstream media, it’s even more devastating if you end up disliking it.

For me, Hereditary really does live up to the hype. It’s a truly unique, harrowing film that goes beyond predictable, boring jump-scares in order to thrill its audience. The horror here is much better than that, but still packs a monumental punch. Something I really liked about this film is how it portrayed the genuine horrors of things like grief and a broken family,  that real life audiences can identify with. There are scenes within this film that will probably stay with me for the rest of my life, due to how jarring and brilliantly acted they were. 

Every member of Hereditary’s family is portrayed brilliantly, I was blown away by the quality of the acting and just how invested I was in each of the character’s lives and feelings. They’re the stereotypical middle-class family; mother, father, son, daughter, except here they have a much darker secret buried within. Toni Collette certainly shines as the family’s matriarch; it’s been a while since I’ve been haunted by a performance before, she truly is amazing in this film and I can’t wait to see what she does next.

Hereditary is filled with many disturbing images and an overall sense of dread throughout the entire film. The cinematography really knows how to make you feel uncomfortable and on edge, yet completely transfixed on the screen. It truly is reminiscent of films such as Rosemary’s Baby and Carrie, proving that horror stories are still able to thrive, and aren’t reduced to constant jumpy moments and excessive violence. I loved the psychological horror of the narrative, and how I’m still thinking about it even a week after watching the film. It’s the kind of film that gets under your skin and makes you think.

Ari Aster’s debut feature film goes beyond simply portraying the supernatural as terrifying, and instead taps into real life horror and all the traumatic, isolating and disturbing feelings that come with it. It’s a horror film that many can identify with, deep down, dealing with some very real psychological experiences and fears. I seriously recommend this, but I also recommend bracing yourself for a wild ride. It’s not for the faint of heart.

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