“Hereditary” underwhelmed me. There was a time when I refused to bad mouth any horror film that made the effort to bridge across audiences and make the most without gaudy theatrics. That time has passed, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. “Hereditary” wants to be amazing and it tries with all of its heart in every frame. Trying doesn’t necessarily make something good, but it makes it into an experience.
The peculiar looking Milly Shapiro forces the audience’s eye upon her. Featured heavily in the marketing and first act of the film, it’s like the production team is daring you to look away from this generation’s demonic hellspawn. Milly Shapiro’s Charlie is a strong young lady with an unhealthy obsession with her grandmother. But, this implication comes up in the middle of several bits of forced exposition. Her grandmother wanted Charlie to be a boy, the mom is in grief counseling & support and the young lady clucks.
After Charlie’s dingbat mother forces her brother to take Charlie to a party, the little weirdo eats some cake and has an allergic reaction. Along the way to the hospital, the kids swerve to miss an animal in the road. That would’ve been fine, if Charlie didn’t have her head sticking out the window. A nearby utility pole smacks into Miss Creepy’s skull and her head goes flying off with a thud. Older brother returns home with the headless corpse in the backseat. How little thought is given to Charlie’s severed head left at the accident scene cracks me up. I’ve seen this film twice now and I’ve been asked to leave both times during this scene.
I’m sorry, but if I’m not getting out of my seat for Loafers McDouche, I’m not getting up for X amount of ushers you send my way. But, that first act of the film worked for me. It’s when we get into Highbrow Paranormal Activity that I start to fade. Ann Dowd gets called in to bring Toni Collette some grounded material to build from after Charlie’s death. When you spend too long setting up a family drama, it’s often hard to set the rules for your demonic fueled horror movie.
From there, it’s a race to see Toni Collette lose it while Gabriel Byrne has to fight to hold his family together. Liberally borrowing ideas from similar highbrow arthouse horror, the film tries its best to be smarter than the audience. However, everyone knows what’s coming. It’s just the gore factor and application that might leave one guessing. “The Witch” handled the same effort far better, but I get the desire to push that way.
While I appreciate that a horror film that doesn’t pander to teenagers is getting a summer release, I just feel that another pass at the script could’ve been that last push to success. Many of the early festival takes seem to be borne out of the many shocks the film throws at you. I just feel that what some might find shocking also play as uneven plot pacing and not knowing when to hit those story buttons. I’ll revisit the film closer to Halloween to see if it has changed for me. Either way it goes, I’ll be revisiting Hereditary before 2018 ends.
- 2 hrs and 7 mins