Well, you certainly couldn’t avoid the hype for this movie recently. Marketed with the tag: “This generation’s The Exorcist” which always makes me wary. Surely if the movie can stand up on its own merits it wouldn’t need to be compared to a movie that’s over 40 years old? Come to think of it, a lot of things about its marketing push makes me suspicious, usually when a film is hyped this much it’s a sign that the studio doesn’t have much faith in the product, as well as its somewhat misleading trailers it threw up a lot of red flags.
So, was I justified to be suspicious, or is this truly a film that will live for generations?
Following the death of her mother, Annie Graham (Toni Colette) starts to notice strange occurrences, and changes in her children and the world around her, as she digs through the mystery surrounding her mother’s life and death.
For those of you who’ve been reading my reviews for any length of time will remember me stating that I wasn’t all that fond of horror films, but as time has gone on, I’ve gained an appreciation for horror films that think outside the box and have some level of creativity, which is why it just kills me to say that Hereditary may have ended any goodwill I have towards horror movies.
With my stall firmly set out, I’ll start with my positive takeaways from the movie. Toni Colette was a firm stand-out, even with the often-questionable material given to her, she delivers a superb, emotional performance. Also, the effect of showing events of the film in the doll-houses was a nice touch, although pushing it towards the end.
Now, down to the nitty gritty of things, and I’m not going to dance around the subject, I really disliked this movie. It’s been a while since I’ve purely disliked a film, it almost feels refreshing.
I think my biggest gripe is how the movie thinks it’s so much smarter than it actually is, presented as a pretentious chin-stroker while simultaneously indulging such obvious horror tropes, it makes it look worse than it is, make no mistake it’s all very well put together and acted but it seems so in love with itself that it forgets to have a compelling narrative.
There’s a point in the film, roughly halfway through where it seemed like it may be building to something interesting, only to completely lose it’s focus and fall back on the aforementioned clichés, it wouldn’t be so bad if the film didn’t seem so pleased with itself at every turn.
As I said, it’s competently laid out, and starts to build an interesting tension, which just makes it even more disappointing when it suddenly becomes just another generic horror movie, with no teeth to do anything interesting or boundary pushing. For instance, it tends to fall back on gross-out imagery, now, I have no problem with blood and gore, I’m intelligent enough to make the distinction between fiction and reality, but here it feels so forced and unearned, like it felt it just needed to show us horrible things to be a horror movie, rather than showing us it for any logical reason.
It also commits the cardinal sin of horror intrigue, by explaining the threat, not only that but making the threat so piss-weak it takes you out of the rest of the film. My rule of thumb is always that what’s in your head will always end up being scarier than what is presented to you, I had the same problem but on a lesser scale with A Quiet Place, and it’s magnified here, because A Quiet Place had interesting characters, setting and threat, this film has none of those things.
The best thing that can be said about Hereditary is, it’s just another horror film, it’s not the ground-breaking experience it thinks it is, it’s a cookie-cutter plot with cliched characters, so pretentious that it didn’t realise that all its ideas have been done before and better, not helped by a media profile that would make Stalin blush.
In brief, Hereditary is only “this generations The Exorcist” only in the fact that it too was overhyped and overrated. There are much better uses of your time.