Zach Gilbert’s review published on Letterboxd:
“They’re all pawns in this horrible, hopeless machine”
I’ve drafted this review almost 20 times and I still can’t seem to find the right words to describe Hereditary, but here goes nothing. Quite simply, it has left me speechless. How in the world is this Ari Aster’s feature length directorial debut? Aster is so assured, so restrained, and so diligent here, demonstrating the work of an expert, not a rookie. Even if you think you’ve seen this “type of movie” before, he continually frames his scenes in unique and novel ways that devilishly prey on your fears and toy with your preconceived notions of the horror genre. His superb direction is matched by an incredibly refined screenplay that refuses to speak down to the audience and carefully takes its time to set elements of the plot in motion. Minute details continually weave themselves back into the story, especially as the film reaches its pulse-pounding climax. While the film is certainly a “slow-burn”, I was enthralled from the first second and Aster never lost my attention. I shared in the tension, despair, and helplessness that our lead family experiences, and while I was suitably disturbed by the events taking place, I was far too horrifically captivated to look away. Now, I’ve saved my favorite part of the film for last - the PERFORMANCES. Toni Collette is an absolute powerhouse as matriarch Annie Graham, who slowly transitions throughout the film from a grief-stricken woman desperate to stay composed for the sake of her family to a complete frayed nerve, entirely unwraveled and unpredictable. Alex Wolff similarly stunned me as son Peter Graham, as he deftly handled some of the more emotionally devastating moments of the film and stood toe-to-toe with Collette in their tense verbal sparring matches. The film’s chilling score is a star of its own, escalating the persistent anxiety and dread. In my eyes, Hereditary is an epic Greek tragedy told within the confines of a modern American family. Are we really as in control of our lives as we think? As we wish? How do we cope, how do we live, if we aren’t the ones pulling the strings? Can we reclaim our autonomy and prevail? Hereditary dares to ask all of these questions and more, and the answers are wickedly satisfying.