Monday, 25 June 2018

Review: Hereditary

Cert: 15 / 127 mins / Dir. Ari Aster / Trailer

Y'see, this is why I don't like being late to the party. Between Hereditary's UK release and me finally catching it, I'd heard multiple - unconnected - reports of mid/late-stage walkouts, audience laughter when nothing was being presented as a joke, and a third-act which completely undermines the craft and skill of the first two.

And tonight I saw all of those in action.

Ari Aster's debut feature begins as a claustrophobic treatise on abuse, secrecy, regret, and crippling guilt, all with an ambiguous supernatural edge. We, the audience, slowly pan across the pieces of a jigsaw which have been slowly put into place for decades before we arrived, watching as more are added to reveal the horrifying emerging picture. Toni Collette is positively haunting as a mother trying to hold her family together whilst knowing that she's the very one threatening to tear it apart. Gabriel Byrne is cautious weariness personified as her husband, and Alex Wolff and Milly Shapiro effortlessly wear the psychological battle scars of the pair's children.

Then at the chalkboard scene, it all goes downhill. Rapidly.

It appears that Ari called in sick, just as M. Night Shyamalan came home pissed*1 and decided to re-write Being John Malkovich so the studio decided to use that instead. All of the existential dread (and a fair portion of the actual technique) in the film's intricately drafted setup is thrown in the bin as a cheap, batshit-crazy possession-horror hurriedly assembles its own backstory in a vain bid to be taken seriously. Even Gabriel Byrne stops trying to do his own accent when he realises the wheels have fallen off, presumably in the hopes of being mistaken for another actor.

The other thing I'd heard about Hereditary is that as silly as it becomes, the film's strengths just about make up for its weaknesses. No they don't. That's like someone pissing in your pint and telling you it's okay because you enjoyed the first half.

There's a great film in here somewhere. It's a shame Ari Aster stopped trying to make it.

So, what sort of thing is it similar to?
I'm still trying to work that out myself.

Is it worth paying cinema-prices to see?
Some of it is.

Is it worth hunting out on DVD, Blu-ray or streaming, though?
Only if there's a commentary track explaining what the fuck happened.

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
Credit where it's due, Toni Collette is is awards-worthy here, even when things turn silly.

Will we disagree about this film in a pub?
That's entirely possible.

Is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There isn't.

Yeah but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 2: Toni Collette's in this, and she was in that last xXx abomination, along with Sam 'Windu' Jackson and Donnie 'Îmwe' Yen.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 As in 'drunk', for the non-UK readers among you. Steamingly, embarrasingly, 'don't-remind-me-what-I-did'-level drunk. [ BACK ]

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting - I know so many horror fans who absolutely loved it.