A few weeks ago, my husband and I went to see “Hereditary”.
I love horror movies and after the disappointment of “The Incredibles 2” I was hoping a good thrill would get my summer movie viewing season back on track. Unfortunately, I was incredibly disappointed in the film. There were a few scary and shocking moments but overall, I found the movie to be a big downer.
Be warned this review contains spoilers.
I felt like the movie couldn’t quite decide what it was. Was it a horror movie about a family that belongs to a satanic group or was it a story about mental illness passed down through generations? The first half of the movie is unbelievably sad. Toni Collette actually gives a great dramatic performance before the film tries (unsuccessfully) to switch from tragic family drama to horror film.
I feel like horror movies, despite the fact they are about people dying, are supposed to have a degree of fun to them. I just didn’t find anything fun about the first half of the film where a woman who has just lost her mother also looses her daughter (who seems to be special needs). The second half of the film tries to take the tragedies of the first half and turn them into something satanic. It wants to be “Paranormal Activity” meets “The Sixth Sense” but it’s not. Maybe if the family’s history of mental illness hadn’t been so heavily emphasized in the first half I would have found the second half more fun. Or maybe if the way the daughter dies hadn’t been so awful I could have enjoyed the film more. Collette’s pain early in the film is just too real to make the movie any kind of fun. It’s clear that the film wants to say that the mental illness of the family wasn’t real. The second half wants you to believe that the history of Collette’s mother, daughter, son and brother are all part of a satanic groups wishes.
However, I still feel that the film is really about generations of family dysfunction, mental illness and what happens to women when they become mother’s when they don’t want to be.
I feel like there could have been a good horror movie in there. Clearly the little girl cutting the head off the dead birth is foreshadowing her own death.
I like the idea that there was a bond between satanic grandmother and granddaughter, but it wasn’t explored enough. I think it’s pretty clear by the end of the movie that Collette’s late brother didn’t have multiple personalities that caused him to hang himself. It’s clear Collette’s mother was trying to have her own son possessed by the demon that eventually possess Collette’s own son.
I get these story elements and I like them but “Hereditary” is like a recipe that is half entrée and half desert. Each element may be fine but when mix them all up it makes a big ole mess.
Like I mentioned Collette is gives a great performance. Everybody else is solid as well, but I do feel Ann Dowd is getting typecast. The problem is no matter how solid the performances are it doesn’t matter if the film itself is a mixed up mess.
“Hereditary” is a love it or hate it film. It’s obvious which camp I fall into. See it at your own risk.
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Here is a description:
Justin Gomez and his sister, Terri, have never been close. Separated by nine years and distant in adulthood, Justin and Terri have little in common, except for the love of her three children. In the days before they embark on a road trip to visit the father that once abandoned them and their now deceased mother, both Terri and Justin are dealing with unexpected changes in their lives. Justin surprisingly realizes he might want more than a series of one night stands after a first date goes unexpectedly well. After a lifetime of being a strong type A personality, Terri is forced to confront the reality of the end of her marriage. As they hit the road, with Terri’s children in tow, they find themselves forced to rely on and confide in each other following a devastating event. Confronted with memories from the past and challenges from the present, Terri and Justin must dig deep and unearth the truth about themselves and their parents in order to build a new family based on their love for each other.