Before we begin diving into this review of “Hereditary,” it must be stated that the tagline for this film, as you see in the poster above, is “Evil runs in the family.” If evil ran in my family, chances are I’d probably be in a different family. I can’t say it does, but it’s possible that I also can’t say it doesn’t, because there are many ways of interpreting evil. Speaking of families, a new family will be formed in a matter of time. Paul, Genevieve, and their future child will eventually find themselves together. Although the journey to get to the guarantee of the couple and child finding themselves together was an absolute quest of tears and pain. This is all explained… in “What the IVF?!”
“What the IVF?” is a YouTube series which has been going on for months. Each Monday, watch a new short video of Paul and Genevieve’s misadventures of making their best attempt to create a baby. Every week, a new story is told concerning the couple, and it displays small positives and major negatives. Watch the two as they have to deal with unfortunate realities in sex, math, exams, crying, and needles sharper than the picture on that TV at Best Buy you want so freakin’ bad. You can find the latest episodes on the series’s dedicated YouTube channel, and new stories arrive each Monday! The latest episode in the series goes over the couple’s sixth, seventh, and eighth “IVF” cycles in a small matter of minutes. This episode is a bit shorter than some of the other ones you’d find on the channel, so if ten minute videos are your thing as opposed to six minute videos, make your way over to the “WTIVF?” YouTube channel (link below) and browse their video selection. Be sure to subscribe, hit the notification bell, and follow “WTIVF?” on other forms of social media aside from YouTube! To do that, visit the links below and hit the follow icons! Also, be sure to tell them that Jack Drees sent ya over!
WTIVF? WEBSITE: http://www.whattheivf.com/
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“Hereditary” is the feature-length directorial debut of Ari Aster and stars Toni Collette (The Sixth Sense, Little Miss Sunshine), Alex Wolff (Patriots Day, The Naked Brothers Band), Milly Shapiro, Ann Dowd (The Handmaid’s Tale, The Leftovers), Gabriel Byrne (The Usual Suspects, The Man in the Iron Mask) and reveals scary occurrences and events, not to mention dark secrets hiding within a family after the passing of its matriarch.
When it comes to “Hereditary,” I’ve heard mostly positive thoughts about it before I went out to see what this thing is all about. I recall seeing trailers, but not as much as other films I saw this year and others I’ve still yet to see. One of the biggest things that really got me excited for “Hereditary” is the studio behind it. This movie is distributed by the independent company A24. While their first films such as “A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III” and “Spring Breakers” released back in 2013, A24’s true recognition came during the year of 2015. In that year, they released films such as “Amy,” “Ex Machina,” and “Room.” All those films went on to win Academy Awards, and since then A24 has been bringing their A-game to the theaters. They released a number of films the following year, including the 89th Academy Awards Best Picture winner, “Moonlight.” Last year, 2017, was also a significant year for the studio. They’ve released several acclaimed films such as “The Florida Project,” “A Ghost Story,” “Lady Bird,” and what I find to be one of the best films of the decade, and in the conversation to be the best comedy of the decade, “The Disaster Artist.” This year, they’re still killing it. “Lean on Pete” has been getting great reviews, “First Reformed” is not getting many bad reactions either, and “Eighth Grade,” a film I’m really looking forward to that has yet to be released has gotten extremely positive criticism so far, with only a single rotten review on Rotten Tomatoes.
I walked into “Hereditary” with a smile on my face, all happy to see something that could potentially be masterful, scary, and just an overall well-done product. However I walked out of “Hereditary” thinking to myself, “What the f*ck did I just watch?”
NOW HOLD ON!
I didn’t say the movie is terrible, in fact, it’s the exact opposite. In fact, it’s in the horror genre so you kind of might want to think that. There were several aspects of the film that had me in awe, and others that dropped my jaw.
First off, we have the direction and cinematography. The first shot of the movie is the camera moving away from a window, and it kind of reminded me a bit of “The Witch” and “The Neon Demon” if you’ve ever seen those films. That same shot pans and moves into this dollhouse, eventually leading to the introduction of a couple of the movie’s characters. Part of me wanted to really know how exactly this was done. This dollhouse is supposed to resemble the house where the movie’s family lives, and part of me wonders how exactly they transitioned into our first character interaction. It could have been as simple as stopping tape and moving onto a real live-action location, trying to replicate EXACTLY where tape stopped in the previous shot. If so, bravo, I couldn’t even tell. Maybe some CGI work went into this whole thing. I’m not doing much research on this, but this makes me extra curious to watch the movie again once it comes out on home video just so I can scroll through the bonus features. But if someone were to ask me today, how exactly this scene was done, I’d tell you that I haven’t got the darndest clue. I mean, how would I? I wasn’t on set. I took a TV and video production class for four years in high school, and I’ve learned quite bit about filmmaking during that time, but I wouldn’t say I’m the ultimate guru when it comes to this stuff. When you combine this movie’s direction by Ari Aster and the cinematography by Pawel Pogorzelski, you get this plethora of wonder and suspense. This ultimately may have been the very thing, if not one of the very things that reminded me of “The Witch.” I say possibly one of the very things because that’s also a below average paced A24 horror film about the overall destruction of a family. One thing that’s different about “Hereditary” and “The Witch” however is that I find “Hereditary” to actually be a good movie.
I gotta say though, for those of you reading this on a later date, I saw this film during the summer movie season of 2018, which funny enough, based on the thoughts of some people, starts almost a full couple of months before summer actually begins. 2018 is looking to have one of the best summers I’ve witnessed in terms of movies. I’ve already given three perfect scores to movies this year, with two of them being for movies that got wide theatrical releases during the summer movie season. One of those two films wasn’t a blockbuster, but neither is this. Pretty much since June, I’ve given mostly scores of 8 or above to movies I’ve seen in theaters. While we have not even gotten to my final verdict section of the review yet, just a warning, this is going to continue my positive score frenzy.
Moving onto some of the characters in “Hereditary,” let’s begin this section by talking about Toni Collette’s character of Annie. I haven’t seen much work featuring Collette, but having seen “Hereditary,” I now want to go on and look at some of her past work because her performance here is fantastic! She might have just provided my favorite performance by an actor so far this year! I know it’s early, but when awards season comes around, I’m willing to bet that the name Toni Collette will be popping up somewhere. Her expressions, her emotion, her line delivery, everything about this performance was top-notch and kept my eyes on the screen. Now that I think about it, there’s one moment in this movie that takes place while the family is having dinner, and it reminded me a bit of “10 Cloverfield Lane.” It’s almost as if John Goodman’s character from “10 Cloverfield Lane” switched genders, took crazy pills, and started yelling up a storm. Collette gives by far the best performance of the movie, and if I were to do my own awards show where I choose all the winners, Collette might just take Best Actress.
Speaking of actresses, this movie is the film introduction of Milly Shapiro, who plays the character of Chucky–err, I mean Charlie. In terms of acting, this is not only a great performance by a child actress, but just a solid performance in general. I felt bad towards this character in a way, because as mentioned, the movie is basically about the events that occur after, in this particular case, Charlie’s grandmother passes away. And given the dialogue in one scene, Charlie feels like she gets greater care and attention from her grandmother than she does from her own birthmother. And the more I think about that scene and the way it’s written, I could make connections to my own life. I’m lucky enough to have my grandparents still living today. This includes grandparents on both my mother’s and father’s side. Once they die, I don’t know what exactly my parents will be thinking, but maybe it’s something along the lines of getting older, wondering how long they have to live, how much this will impact them, or simply being “next.” If one or both my parents die, and maybe I’m at any age range in this circumstance, I can’t exactly say how I’ll react, this isn’t something that’s supposed to be rehearsed. But I feel like a part of me will die too. I wonder how much longer I have left until I go.
I will say that all the actors in this movie give terrific performances, and this even includes one that who I’d say gives perhaps the worst performance in the movie, and that’s Alex Wolff. Now, when I say worst performance, I could be exaggerating. There are a good number of roles played by various actors in this film, but out of the main roles, Alex Wolff’s portrayal of Peter may have been the weakest. Granted, he was born in 1997 and is not even twenty-one yet, so it’s kinda sorta understandable that he’s not in the same caliber as say, Toni Collette, but I do find it somewhat surprising for him to be considered worse by me than Milly Shapiro. The unfortunate thing about Wolff’s performance is there are certain segments of scenes that kind of took me out of the movie for a second. I heard him crying and made me think he was doing a terrible impression of Matthew McConaughey. If that’s how he cries in real life, then OK, I didn’t know. But Wolff’s cry in this movie (no pun intended) doesn’t sound all that realistic. It made me think I was watching the climax of “Interstellar” and instead of trying to cry, Matthew McConaughey gave random choking noises that qualify as sad sounds. For the most part, Wolff was on his A-game, it’s a very solid performance, but if it weren’t for the crying, I would have been fully immersed into the movie.
One thing I will mention though is that I went to a restaurant after watching the movie, and I talked about it for a brief moment with the bartender serving my mother, sister, and I. If you ask me what I thought about how this movie ended, I’d say it was one of the better endings I saw all year, and I imagine a good number of people would feel the same way. When I heard from the bartender that he didn’t like the second half of the movie, I was curious to know why. I very much enjoyed the second half, thought it was disturbing, jaw-dropping at times, and made me question exactly what’s happening in such a positive way. There’s one thing about the ending however that I won’t get into that I particularly didn’t care about but he said he didn’t like. This is not the first time I heard a complaint like this, but it just goes to show that despite this movie’s acclaim, maybe it’s not for everyone. But it certainly was for me.
In the end, “Hereditary” is one of the most well directed movies of the year, along with a movie that just showcases tons of powerhouse performances. Toni Collette better get some chatter regarding the Academy Awards and depending on how the rest of the year plays out, her lack of appearance as a nominee for Best Actress will probably be a personal snub. I haven’t seen any of the shorts Ari Aster directed before going on to do “Hereditary,” however I would love to see some more work from him in the future. Maybe some more horror movies, film noir, or maybe something like a period piece. I loved “Hereditary,” I want to watch it again, and if it weren’t for issues as small as a Tic Tac, this would have received a perfect score. I’m gonna give “Hereditary” a 9/10. Thanks for reading this review! Pretty soon I’m gonna have my review up for “Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation,” whether or not I’ll have it up this week is a total mystery to me, but I’ll be sure to have it up prior to the release of “Mission: Impossible: Fallout,” thus completing my Tom Cruise “Mission: Impossible” movie review series before that next installment hits theaters. Stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Hereditary?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite A24 film thus far? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!