Hereditary is a film starring Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro and directed by Ari Aster. It follows a family that uncovers many secrets about their heritage after Collette’s on-screen mother dies.
I’ve heard a lot of good and bad things about Hereditary. It’s got a high critic score on Rotten Tomatoes made me think this film was probably great, but an audience score of D+ on Cinemascore is quite awful and made me question whether it was really any good. It’s safe to say this is one of the most divisive movies of the year.
I fall in between the fans and the critics. I don’t think the movie is exceptional, yet I don’t think it’s half as bad as the general audience thinks it is.
One of the best parts of the film were the brilliant performances by nearly all members of the cast. Alex Wolff was great in this. He was also good in Jumanji so I’m interested to see what he does next. Milly Shapiro made her film debut in this movie and played her character really well. She has incredible talent and I can’t wait to see more of her in other movies.
The standout performer however was Toni Collette. Her performance in this film is probably the best by an actress this year. Yes, even better than Emily Blunt in A Quiet Place and Charlize Theron in Tully. The emotional range she shows is one of the best I’ve seen in a long time. She manages to portray the complex character in an effective manner and her performance was the highlight of the movie.
Furthermore, a lot of the technical aspects of the film were extremely well executed. Ari Aster’s direction was unique. Especially in the opening act, a lot of shots are shot differently from the conventional style most directors used. The score is also used in manner which helps build up intensity in many of the scenes.
That brings me on to another strong point of the film. Some of the scenes are extremely intense and put me on the edge of my seat. One of these scenes was the first ‘spiritual’ scene. I don’t want to spoil what the scene was so all I’m going to say is it was quite creepy. Another really effective scene was the dream where a miscarriage is discussed. Again, I’m not going to go into it, but it was extremely well-performed and directed. There was also a dinner scene that Toni Collette nailed. However, perhaps the most effective scene was the car scene. It was extremely intense and the end result is shocking and honestly, very disturbing.
Despite having some effective scenes, some of the scenes in the film fall completely flat. One of these scenes was a couple minutes after the car scene, and it really took me out of the film and ruined it’s otherwise pretty good flow at that point.
Another issue I have is the pacing of the first half. At times it can feel really slow and this was another aspect of the film that really ruined it for me. Especially considering how strong and well-paced the second act was.
The ending was one of the weakest parts of the film. To resonate more with the viewer, it is important that films have a good conclusion. The last 20 or 30 minutes of this movie is an absolute mess. It’s convoluted and chaotic. I was honestly just confused by why the film decided to take this route. A lot of the twists are honestly quite dumb and didn’t work at all for me. The final shot also had no impact on me.
Overall, Hereditary is a film that struggled with pacing issues and a woeful ending, but, fantastic performances, Ari Aster’s direction and powerful scenes help elevate the overall quality of the film. I’m going to give Hereditary a B-.