Another horror movie labelled ‘The scariest film of the year’ is… Hereditary. This is a phrase overused within the industry and is basically a ploy to trick movie goers into watching their crappy mediocre fear fest. If they want to use this description, they got to know how to deliver. So is Hereditary the scariest film of the year? Let’s get into it.
Plot: After the death of a beloved daughter, what is a mother to do but grieve. In the process she uncovers the secret of her family and their involvement with the supernal.
I am just going to start by saying NO, this film is far from being the ‘scariest film of the year’. Ok, review over, goodbye… Okay it isn’t scary but this doesn’t mean that the film was bad. Hereditary seems to be having an identity crisis, labelling itself as a horror when it is clearly a dark family drama with elements of the supernatural chucked in at the end. It was more intense than actually scary. The film follows the themes of loss, family relationships and mental health, all themes explored in a good drama.
Even though the film can’t really deliver us much of a scare, Hereditary is an impressive watch. The entire film is incredibly well shot, with interesting scene transitions and use of screen space. I always love an extreme wide shot in horror! However, one particular technique that stood out was the use of the dollhouse to create space and optical illusions in terms of object size. You would be looking at a dolls version of a room and suddenly be transported into the real version. This factor was clever and engaging but I can’t help think that they could have used the doll houses for horror, not just matching scene transitions. It is clear that there was a lot of thought and effort into how it was filmed, rather than just the narrative, red hearings and jump scares. These filming methods are used to produce a spectacle for movie geeks, rather than to create horror.
The way Hereditary is filmed is great but you need the subjects on screen be greater, AKA. a fantastic narrative and character development. This is not usually as dominant in horrors but in a dark family drama with elements of the supernatural, you need an engaging storyline. The plot itself starts strong in terms of action and events. However, the middle segment of the film seems to drag out for far too long, focusing largely on character development. This shows the strong elements of drama reinforced through the incredible acting. After an hour or so the film tries to jump back into the horror side of things. This is fairly sudden and for me was unsuccessful and confusing. Again, I believe the film works well as a drama but not so much a horror.
As I said earlier, the acting is incredible and goes past the usual teen supernatural. Through exploring themes of loss and family, the cast are given the opportunity to portray these difficult scenarios and are provided the space to shine. The mother/ Anie Graham in particular played by Toni Collette, was fantastic. She was believable in her grief, something rarely seen in horror actors. There were some who seemed to be partially out of the depth, such as Peter Graham (Alex Wolff). Alex was brilliant at acting scared but his crying seemed forced. But he could still do a better job than I could so who am I to judge?
If you have read my reviews in the past, it is obvious that I LOVE a good sound score. The music needs to enhance the action and tone of the film whilst being good enough to listen to on its own. Unless it’s a slasher soundtrack with far too many violins at once. The music in Hereditary was weird and fit with the way the film was heading. There was a lot of heavy base, used to recreate the human heartbeat and the pace was often erratic. It was unique and slightly weird, again like the film. However, some people I watched it with and even a few movie reviewers were put off by the sound score.
Overall, as a drama the film was great. The narrative and character development was strong, backed up by brilliant acting, interesting use of music and fantastic filming techniques. However, as a horror the film was unsuccessful, confusing and took itself too seriously. So to sum up Hereditary is not the ‘scariest film of the year’ but it is a good watch.
Have anything you would like me to review? Leave a film or show in the comments!