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I'm sorry guys that I couldn't provide longer apprehensive posts during my week at SXSW. I tried to post something (at least something) for every film I watched but I didn't really get to go in depth. Although I think my reviews for SXSW were good enough and captured the sheer wonder and euphoria I felt during that dreamy surreal week. I've been thinking about it non-stop and even my friend Leah persists "I miss you G :(". It hurt letting all that go. It was like I was in a vibrant dream world and I was coming back to the cold touch of reality. And Man does reality stink, I came back to school to midterms and quizzes. I probably should've studied that week but I guess it was all worth it in the end. I mean, I met Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Jeff Goldblum, John Cena, and many more. Being in the whirlwind of SXSW for spring break was 100% worth it, and I'd do it all over again - and I will be in the future. But out of every SXSW movie I decided that I just have to write something more extensive on a very particular film; Hereditary.
In my initial post I stressed that Hereditary was so terrifying I nearly cried and that I wanted to leave. That I wished I hadn't seen what I had saw. As scary as that sounds I never really stressed exactly what it was that made Hereditary so deeply unsettling and downright terrifying. But that's what this post is - an expansion on my initial post to give further explanation. It's been weeks now and I still find myself trying to block this film out of my consciousness. But it just won't leave. It's like the images and every sound (tongue noises and all) from this film won't leave my mind. Hereditary follows the story of a family who has just suffered a loss, the death of a grandmother. Annie (Toni Collette) has just lost her mother and her daughter Charlie (Milly Shapiro) and son Peter (Alex Wolff) both have their own ways of reacting to the dark reality of their loss. After a strange phone call things begin to take quite the turn. The film goes from a deeply disorienting family drama to all out insanity of the utmost malevolence.
Technically speaking Hereditary is a triumph. These shots are simply remarkable. Within the composition of the shots in Hereditary there is nothing short of nuance. From spatial reasoning of frames to the horrific nightmarish imagery this is what terror looks like. The lighting is simply perfect and the colors add in creating a visually magnificent film. The camera works like clockwork in the most discomforting fashion. Hereditary continues to look and feel like a cynical exploration of tragedy. The sound here is simply horrifying. Some of these sounds will stick with you and many of them will haunt you even after the films finish. Hereditary is often silent allowing the audience to await for the horrors to come and then it's often completely bonkers sonically. There's some peculiar instrumentation in the film. The editing here is quite amazing. The overall stitching of every seam of Hereditary feels like watching a genius bring a masterpiece to fruition. The direction here is simply fantastic. For a debut it's really amazing just exactly what Ari Aster is able to achieve here. This is a genuinely sublime representation of what horror is all about.
The performances here are towering. Gabriel Byrne does amazing work. I don't think I've ever seen Byrne act before but he's simply exquisite in this. Milly Shapiro is genuinely creepy and gives a fascinating performance. Alex Wolff is simply phenomenal. The level of fear and uncertainty Wolff is able to translate through the screen at the horrors that unfold is simply remarkable. This is a fine tuned performance by the young man and one that is absolutely spectacular. Though it is Toni Collette who steals the show. Collette is unbelievably amazing here. She delivers a tense and evocative performance as a mother stuck between mourning and truly insane. I haven't seen a performance this astonishing from a horror film in so long but I could actually see Toni getting an Oscar nomination for this. The entire cast does convincing work in creating a visceral horror experience like no other.
Overall, Hereditary is a film that is genuine horror in the most calculated and abrasive sense. There's so many conflicts going on within and outside of Annie as she tries to find some sort of sense of this situation. Through its visual storytelling and it's immense levels of dread and anxiety inducing atmospheric horror; Hereditary brings upon a type of horror that is not too often represented onscreen. Much like 2017's horror triumph IT was the rebirth of fear, Hereditary marks the rebirth of true evil. A film that almost feels violating to even witness before ones eyes. Hereditary showcases that true evil is not one that is of the naked eye, true evil is the kind that lies within. Because even a simple house can be the epicenter of a nightmarish experience. Hereditary is deeply sinister, cruel, shocking, jaw dropping, and downright nasty. Primal and ritualistic in a sense; Hereditary is a startling peak into an unspeakable hell.