Dread is a common aspect that comes across many as they live. It is something that some just cannot escape. Many cannot stop thinking about their pasts. Some cannot stop thinking about what their future holds. This is the case with the characters in one of the best horror films in recent memory, Hereditary. First time writer and director Ari Aster presents a film that has been compared to The Shining, The Exorcist, and Rosemary’s Baby due to its sense of dread. After Annie Graham’s (Toni Collete) mother passes away, the Graham family experiences so much dread that it is nearly impossible to imagine.
Horror films are not my cup of tea. However, I heard lots of praise for Ari Aster’s directorial debut that I felt I need to see it would measure up to what critics were saying. As I walked into the screening of Hereditary, I was very nervous. I wasn’t nervous because I feared what would happen within the film, but rather how it would measure up to the praise that it had received. On that hot summer day, I was shocked with the level of craft and skill I had seen, but more impressively, this film scared me. I cannot recall the last time a horror film performed so well to the point where I was genuinely scared. Often, horror films are lazily written and filmed with no skill. In other words, horror movies have clichés such as: disposable characters, shaky found footage filming, and worst of all, jumpscares. I do not like jump scares for the most part. They are cheap gimmicks that work if you like to “jump” of out my seat. They do not work simply because they are not scary. While Hereditary uses an occasional jump scare, the film relies more on wide takes of investing characters experiencing a slow burn of dread, like David Fincher’s thriller Se7en. Hereditary is a modern horror masterpiece that earns the praise it has received, but not recommended for the faintest of heart, as it genuinely horrified me.