Hereditary ★★★

Generally, HEREDITARY is fine, and if it had been released, say, five or more years ago, I'd like it quite a bit more. Part of the problem is that the recent spate of prestige-horror films, particularly by first-time directors, has been so good that expectations are a bit higher.

About two-thirds of the way through HEREDITARY, when the switch flips and it's revealed that a fairly deep conspiracy is running through the events, it's tough not to feel like a reference or a riff turns into an out-and-out lift of another film. It's a pretty big risk for Aster to follow through with it when the audience would unavoidably be thinking about this other iconic piece of horror cinema during those final beats. And, really, it takes quite a bit of gall to lift so readily from a classic like PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3

There's only one genuinely funny moment in HEREDITARY--well, two if, like me, you couldn't help but find funny a character's willingness to transform any life experience, no matter how tragic, into a miniature diorama. In any event, at one point Collette's character Annie is presented with a seance script and remarks absently (as if this was the biggest problem with necromancy) "What language is that even in?" Later, Gabe Byrne calls back to Annie's earlier "What language is that even in?" remark from a distance across a table where he couldn't likely have even seen the satanic verses.

But there's almost never a circumstance where Toni Collette isn't worth the price of admission on her own, and doubly moreso in this case, so it's still well worth seeing.