A24’s bone chilling Sundance acquisition Hereditary has been on many the cinephile mind since its January debut. Starring an impeccably disturbed Toni Collette, already poised as best actress of 2018, and filled with enough nail biting tension and intricate, sometimes lovely, sometimes morbid details, this horror spectacle has less jump-scares than you’d think, but prepare for a slow-burning terror in the vain of The Exorcist and The Babadook that eventually releases in explosive ways. Following the death of her secretive mother, Annie (Collette) finds a history of mental illness and loss pressing down on her, irrevocably changing her troubled family. As stranger and more damaging occurrences plague the family, their reality becomes tenuous. This is the most riveting film of the year; this one will stick with you.
Toni Collette performs with her every drop of sweat or traumatized wailing. In moments she is caught off guard, the accidents are internally painful as she continues to spew her feelings out of control. There’s not a reserved moment to her emotional turmoil. When introduced to seances by a woman she meets in a grief support group (Ann Dowd, vital and always on point), her reaction to the results don’t betray a bit of rehearsal. Along with Collette, the offspring have embodied the consequences of a damaged family. Milly Shapiro (one of the original Matilda’s on Broadway) embodies the disconnected daughter, filling every eccentricity with ease. Alex Wolff is given the greatest opportunity to sink into what is haunting this family. Often targeted, the bizarre situation swirls around him, and where everyone is connected to the horror, the son is the recipient of an unexpected infiltration. Wolff begins to glaze over as the spectral disaster permeates his every day.
Every aspect of the film kept me engaged, from the miniatures Collette’s character designs, integral to the terror’s perception of reality, to the dark corners and humorous details in Ari Aster’s possession story. The film paces itself and may be a disappointment for anyone expecting constant thrills, but for some interested in a horror that will stick with you at night, and probably into the next night, Hereditary will sneak under your skin.