Starring Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro
Directed by Ari Aster
Let’s get this out of the way: Hereditary is the scariest movie I’ve seen this year so far. And I saw it early in the morning and it still manages to creep me out.(The next scare-fest to look out for is The Nun, but that's another story for another time.)
Toni Collette’s terrified reactions alone can keep me up all night. She’s stunning as Annie, a miniature-model artist whose estranged mother has just passed away. Her death is only the beginning of Annie’s woes.
When weird things start to happen around the house and threaten her children (Alex Wolff and Milly Shapiro), she begins to wonder, is this really going on, or is it just her?
What exactly those weird things are I can’t say — it’s a mystery, why ruin the fun, if you can call it that? The less you know about it, the better.
But this I can reveal: first-time writer-director Ari Aster sure knows how to taunt and torment the audience with the menacing power of silence and stillness and long single-take shots, creating an unsettling vibe that gets under your skin the second the houselights are down.
The doomy and disorienting score by former Arcade Fire saxophonist Colin Stetson is also designed to mess with your head.
It’s a slow-burner, for sure, but it builds and builds until the big release in the bonkers finale that’ll rack your head for days on end.
But this time, I’m doing it at night. In a cinema hall with the AC all cranked up. Wish me luck. (****)
Photo: Golden Village/A24