A family gets their proverbial ass viciously, horrifically kicked in Hereditary, writer-director Ari Aster’s more-than-impressive feature debut. This is a horror movie that will bruise your brain, make your blood run cold and stay in your system well after you’ve left the theater.
Toni Collette plays a woman dealing with the recent death of her mom, and that mom’s strange obsession with the supernatural. The sins of that mom eventually take their toll on her daughter and, consequently, her family.
The movie is a ghost story, a demon story and a witch story rolled into one, with elements of The Witch, Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist and, yes, The Sixth Sense (that vibe owes a lot to the presence of Collette). It’s also one of the more powerful depictions of a family falling apart in recent years, making it an excursion into horror with an extra layer of depth.
The creeping dread factor starts early in Hereditary and never lets up. Aster proves to be a master of atmospheric scares, relying less upon jolts and gore, and more upon lingering shots in dark corners where you can sort of make out a ghost staring at you. Everything works up to a frightening puzzler of a finale that might have you initially asking, “WTF?” but eventually thinking, “Oh … that’s some messed-up shit right there.”