Hereditary ★★

Okay A24--we're done. No more of these half-realized genre pics, technical exercise, calling cards. May Under The Skin remain the only great film you've released(okay and Spring Breakers).

So what's wrong with Hereditary? It's cynical but not so obviously at first. The first half begins with quite an unexpected plot point and builds upon it with an eerie, grief felt, and almost at the edge of tears/laughter kind of atmosphere. It is refreshing that the film doesn't cheaply go for jump scares(make of that whatever you will) and god damn, Toni Collette is great. She's perfect for this kind of role, too bad it's stuck in a movie that in turn, leads her character into one of the most tired resolutions.

And really, that's where this film comes undone. It is easy to figure out what exactly is going on and the scariest thing is that it'll confirm your own presumptions that this film has nowhere new to go. In fact, it lamely falls back on the kind of final half hour that dissolves first, into absurdity, and second, into cynicism.

What does that leave us with? A technical exercise and nothing more. What the film had set up was perfectly fine, and hilariously, its playing off well worn tropes of the horror genre by sheer force of will. But what the film fucks up, is that horror in one way or another, has to have more than just a bunch of creepy happenings and then the most routine, lame, and tired explanation to all those creepy happenings. Why does the director rely on dollhouses? Because the shots look cool. Why mine mental illness? Who cares. The big bad in this feels like a cheat. One in which I didn't have a single care or devotion to. And the film leaves it at that, which is so frustrating.

The best kind of horror films leave us by confirming that our fears and emotions are justified, even if they are strongly ambiguous. What Hereditary does is try to explain why we should be afraid or why we were afraid before. It doesn't add up and it doesn't have the heart, nerve, or audacity to accept that. It would rather seem ambiguous and deep, as if it were pulling one over the audience, but its last trick is predictable, lazy, old news.

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