R | 2h 7min | Drama, Horror, Mystery | 8 June 2018 (USA)
Synopsis: When the matriarch of the Graham family passes away, her daughter’s family begins to unravel cryptic and increasingly terrifying secrets about their ancestry.
Review: If you have followed my reviews and radio show for any length of time you are well aware that I am not a fan of horror films. I want to be. I psych myself up and have big plans to enjoy them but in the end I always regret the experience. Especially if, like the new HEREDITARY, they speed up my heart rate and increase my stress level. Maybe it is safe to say that what I don’t like about horror films makes others appreciate them more.
The story was intriguing but a tad misleading. I will leave out any inklings of spoilers but will say that I was completely wrong about who the major character in this film was going to be. In fact the person I anticipated leading it all turned out to be quite minor in overall contribution. Shame too. I liked my idea better. This one starts with the death of Annie’s (Toni Collette) mother. It is obvious that Annie is more upset about their estrangement more than the actual passing. When eerie events start happening Annie begins wondering if she knew her mother at all. I am not sure the final result of the story is as impactful as the over all journey but one thing is for sure, the last half hour will scare the daylights out of you.
For the many things in this one that do not work – which I will get into shortly – the standout element of this film is the performance by Collette. She covers a wide range of emotion and each one is organic, believable, and powerful. Her character is gut punched more than once and her reaction to each assault is a mix of vulnerability, self preservation and at times, sheer terror. But at that same time there is a strength, perseverance, and determination to survive that you only see in a cornered animal and the eyes of single mothers. Collette is the glue that holds when certain plot points threaten to unhinge the entire movie. She is in a word, fantastic.
Sadly there are a lot of unanswered questions that remain once you go back and rethink the entire film from start to finish. If you are able to watch it and move on with your life then you may not care. But for those who like to work it all out in your head once you know all the reveals this one will have have you frustrated. The twists and mysteries are engaging while you are watching them unfold. It is only afterwards that you realize that much of them feel disjointed and the pieces are not quite in synch. Even the scenery, props, and eerie feel seem like distractions once the house lights turn on. There was so much potential in this one to be slick and perfect. The first two-thirds of the film felt unique and creative. To make the ending cliche with seen 100 times effects and scares feels like a cheat.
If you want to be jaw dropping shocked more than once and on the edge of your seat this is certainly worth seeing. Many of the jump scares and plot twists come out of nowhere and leave you wide eyed. In hind sight they may have been only distractions but in the moment they are effective for sure. HEREDITARY is rated R for horror violence, disturbing images, language, drug use and brief graphic nudity. It is an adult film so get a babysitter for heaven sake. Seeing a movie with bad parents doesn’t mean you have to be one. I give it 3.5 out of 5 slices of cake. Many will leave full and satisfied but others will feel a tad cheated.