Hereditary ★★★★½

"Hereditary" is an intricately crafted horror debut that very well could already be the scariest movie of 2018.

This was the second movie I watched at SXSW 2018. It was followed by a QnA with director Ari Aster, actress Milly Shapiro, actor Alex Wolff, and hosted by Elijah Wood.

"Hereditary" tells the bone chilling story of the repercussions of a grandmothers death on wealthy family. Though the story is one about the whole family, it closely follows the mother (Toni Collete).

The major motif of the is the model house (as seen in the poster). The mother, Annie Graham, spends her time carefully crafting models of houses, buildings, and scenes for art galleries and private sale. Many transitions occur between models and reality. Just as Annie feverishly labors at controlling her little worlds, outside forces labor at controlling Annie's. Shots are carefully constructed to work in the model house, only to reappear in the real house later in the movie. The camera never goes handheld, and hardly ever moves. The visual language is one of intense discipline. It has the symmetry of Wes Anderson with the awkward uneasiness of "The Killing of a Sacred Deer".

The movie wouldn't succeed with camerawork and visual motifs alone though; acting is paramount. Toni Collete is stunningly unhinged. She easily slides between mournful, desperate, and totally insane. As someone who's final grandparent just passed away a few months ago, I'm no stranger to the emotional effects these events can have on a family. It felt so realistic I'm confident the movie would have made either of my parents cry (or at least very nauseous). I can't go into the other actors roles without spoiling it, but everyone works so hard for such a flawless product.

Someone in the audience asked Ari Aster how closely he worked with the sound department on the movie, he responded "Very closely, next question!" with a laugh. The sound really is incredible. Like "The Conjuring" it knows when to get quiet and let silence fill your brain with menacing thoughts. It also know when to get loud (and it does). The instruments were so unique, I had no idea whether I was listening to a huge percussion section, a synth, neither, or some weird combination. It sounds closely to what I imagine "mother!" would have sounded if they kept Johan Johansson's score.

As vaguely as I'm speaking, it's hard to convey what the true terror of the movie really is. It can't be seen in the poster or even the trailer. The true terror is something similar to "Antichrist". It's this overpowering sense of dread, a sense of something deeply evil. The only way to understand what it feels like is to actually watch the movie (which isn't necessarily a bad thing).

"Hereditary" is brilliant horror experience that has a bright future ahead of it. It could rise to immense popularity like "The Shining", or loved cult status like "Suspiria". I (as well as everyone else who has seen the movie) look forward to whatever Ari Aster is working on next, as long as it holds a similar level of detail and care. I can recommend this movie to anyone who like horror movies.

Final Score: 9/10

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