Hereditary ★★★★★

As the credits began rolling, I was frozen in my seat. My nerves were completely shot. Hereditary starts with a bolt of lightning that sends a shock through your system and refuses to let up for an instant throughout its bone-chilling finale. It consistently drives up its tension, beat by beat, louder and louder, until your senses are almost at their breaking point. Ari Aster employs a spellbinding tactic in cinematography- many of the indoor shots are from a distance, giving the illusion that the characters are inside a miniature replica of the house. The feeling of being so small and helpless is laid out on these characters this way, making their increasingly horrifying circumstances all the more petrifying to behold.

The best thing about Hereditary, however, is that it isn't strictly a horror film. Much like Jennifer Kent's masterpiece The Babadook, it can conversely be interpreted as a familial drama. It's simultaneously a chilling portrayal of a family freshly grieving loss finding their relationships unraveling from the inside out. Toni Collette gives an outstanding psychological performance, dishing out to us the innermost recesses of a matriarch on the edge of madness. It starts out as simple drama before taking a sharp dive into spine-tingling horror- a deafeningly loud rush of intense emotions that unleashes all of the horrific undertones that had been boiling up those key moments.

The soundtrack is sublime as well. Discordant clashes of symphonic and electronic tones worm their way into your ears and create a far more horrific atmosphere than almost anything else on the screen could. I could feel my heart racing as its threatening motifs continuously assaulted my senses, heralding a truly sinister presence that petrified me to my core.

There is pure evil within Hereditary, a presence that hasn't been sincerely felt by audiences since The Exorcist. It's a feeling of startling realism, that this could very well be a true story or have a place in history heretofore unknown. The modern renaissance of horror cinema has continued in its grace and style, further proving that there can still be groundbreaking and terrifying films that bring all-new levels of fear and anxiety that I did not think were possible.

Should a horror film be judged based on how much it scared you? There have only been four films that I've seen in my life that have legitimately terrified me: The Exorcist, Rosemary's Baby, The Witch, and now Hereditary. The latter may be one of the most frightening of them all. It not only has a startling reality to its themes, but it also achieves an unparalleled level of nerve-racking tension and horror that I was not expecting in the least. Horror films can be enjoyed by most without actually experiencing fear, but what I saw on the screen here is something I will never forget. It's an eerie and masterful achievement of horror that is proof positive that there is some real artistic merit that can be attained from the genre. Hereditary feels like we are bearing witness to something that we should not be seeing. It's shockingly original in its composition, and deserves a place as one of the greatest horror films ever made- a true modern classic in the making.

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