Plot: Annie (Toni Collette) has just buried her estranged mother and she is conflicted over her emotions, as she isn’t sure if she is sad enough or should be feeling the loss in a more visceral fashion. She tries to focus on her work, crafting miniature dioramas that reflect her own life, but she is haunted by strange dreams and even sees odd visions around the house. As time passes, tensions within her more than slightly dysfunctional family rise and she feels pushed to the brink. But is Annie just coping with grief in her own ways or is there some kind of dark presence that lurks over her family, just waiting to be unleashed?
Entertainment Value: I had a lot of fun with Hereditary, as it is a wild, over the top ride with surreal moments, an insanely melodramatic lead performance, and a lot of silliness that never fails to entertain. The movie starts off as a serious supernatural thriller, but slowly steers off the rails and by the time the finale arrives, it is a manic vision of ridiculous proportions. I found the tension to be effective, even as the movie turns to campiness and the production values are remarkable. The visuals shine and the attention to detail is impressive, from the set design elements to the camera work, the technical aspects are masterful at times. The horror side of Hereditary manifests in the tense atmosphere and while a few jump scares are sprinkled in, it is more about the mood than cheap scares. The movie borrows a lot from other films, from the “creepy person hiding in the corner” to Rosemary’s Baby inspired narrative threads, so it isn’t all that original, but it is a fun concoction. Where the movie shines is how unhinged and over the top it is, embracing the wackiness and giving us an odd atmosphere in which just about anything might happen. Not all horror movies need to be scary and this one proves that tense atmosphere, high melodrama, and general silliness can combine to offer a super fun experience. I had a blast with Hereditary and those who appreciate wild, wacky cinema should have fun here as well.
The movie has some brief, but creepy and hilarious nudity involved, including full frontal exposure from both sexes. This is not played for erotic purposes, more for laughs and to add to the ridiculous nature of the narrative. A good amount of violence in this one, mostly self inflicted, but still fun, effective stuff. A couple of these scenes involve some impressive bloodshed and effects work, but most of the carnage happens off screen and we see the aftermath. But you can’t beat someone sawing their own head off, so while the movie reins in the visible violence, there’s still some wild moments in this department. The dialogue is hilarious and one of the areas Hereditary really excels, with melodrama, family drama, ritualistic lingo, and some stilted, awkward lines that are flat out ludicrous. The highlight for me had to be Gabriel Byrne, who loses and gains his accent throughout the movie, often in the same scene. He is supposed to be the normal one, but he has some bizarre, unnatural lines and one during a rather serious moment that shatters the tension to splinters. “What language is even that?” might be one of my new favorite lines ever. As for craziness, we have Toni Collette’s dialed up to a million, beyond melodramatic performance, the Peter Bark-esque daughter, Alex Wolff pulling some ridiculous facial expressions, the silly lines that crop up, and a finale that veers between surreal and slapstick, and so much more, so this one earns the full wackiness score.
Overall Insanity: 10/10