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“Hereditary” Evil in the House






Review by John Delia, Sr.

Spooky and very edgy the movie Hereditary should delight horror fans that are into the occult. Even though you may get a feeling of déjà vu from other films that have included supernatural incidents, the acting here keeps it sinister enough to carry the fan base. If you like sick and twisted films like Rosemary’s Baby and The Witch, this is your cauldron of tea.

The Graham family and friends are mourning the death of Annie’s (Toni Collette), mother who has passed away following a lengthy illness and old age. Her husband Steve (Gabriel Byrne) has been doing everything he can to comfort Annie in her time of grief. Their son Peter (Alex Wolff) has been acting odd and their daughter Charlie (Milly Shapiro) has been receiving messages from the spirit world in her drawings.

Toni Collette and Milly Shapiro in Herfedity

At school Peter starts to experience a force that wants to inure him and Charlie’s art work has come under scrutiny. When Annie starts to learn more about her mother’s dabbling in the dark arts, she starts to realize that there family may be under attack. And then she meets with Joan (Ann Dowd), a medium, and her world starts to change around her.

Gabriel Byrne, Toni Collette, and Alex Wolff, in Heredity. All photos courtesy of A24

Writer and director Ari Aster does a good job of getting some excellent performances out of his main cast, especially the main five roles that are the Grahams and Joan. Each characters has their own problems and they are accentuated as the film plays out. Sympathy, empathy and then repulsion take over in Ari’s nicely filmed “shock-fest” right up to the bitter end. But, like many first time full feature filmmakers he fails to deliver a payoff.

Toni Collette in Hereditary

Going from a devoted daughter to a frustrated and haunted woman, Toni Collette gives a very good performance. As Annie she’s determined to complete her diorama of the buildings in the city for a businessman, but the project even starts to invade her world following the death of her mother. Collette leads Annie into the unknown showing the grief, then sorrow and finally a realization that she cannot handle.

Keeping the film eerie, Milly Shapiro’s performance as Charlie is magnificent. She’s the innocent that has been invaded, but she’s also the go-between for the spirit world trying to warn her family through her drawings. As Shapiro’s character grows throughout the film, you can see the sinister future for the family. It’s a commendable job for the first time film actress.

Hereditary has been rated R by the MPAA for horror violence, disturbing images, language, drug use and brief graphic nudity. The nudity includes male private parts and that have no needed significance to the plot and the shock value doesn’t really work here.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A well-made film, but the story loses its power in the finale. (2 out of 5 Stars)

Additional Film Information
Cast: Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, Ann Down, Mallory Bechtel
Directed and written by: Ari Aster
Genre: Drama, Horror, Mystery
MPAA Rating: R for horror violence, disturbing images, language, drug use and brief graphic male nudity
Running Time: 2 hrs. 3 min.
Release Date: June 8, 2018
Distributed by: A24
Released in: Standard

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