Hereditary ★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

55/100

Memorably freaky, but also frustratingly muddled. Aster's attempt to braid an Autumn Sonata-style psychological meltdown with a Rosemary's Baby-style Satanic conspiracy feels incoherent; the two modes repeatedly undermine rather than reinforce each other, especially when it comes to Collette's guilt-ridden Annie. The problem, I think, is that the ostensible reinforcements consist entirely of expository monologues: Annie's opening eulogy, the family history she relates to the support group, and her story about nearly setting herself and the kids on fire (which you'd think Aster would have shown rather than merely told, though it does later get a visual callback). Absent these three speeches, the film consists primarily of external threats, and it ends in a place so grandiloquently goofy that both genetic predisposition and parenting seem irrelevant. Throw in the various premonitory elements—bird decapitation; showing the fatal telephone pole in advance, adorned with Paimon's symbol—and it's just hard for me to take Annie's personal anguish seriously, despite Collette's bravura performance. (Wolff, by contrast, is way out of his league.) Didn't spot any comedic or satirical aspects, either, so not sure what a few folks are talking about there; it's just barely possible to work out a feminist angle, but even that seems woefully underdeveloped. My overall impression is of a film that's struggling to appear smarter and more thoughtful than it actually is. But isolated moments did get under my skin, and that's not nothing.