Hereditary review - a uniquely petrifying masterpiece
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Verdict: Toni Collette commands Ari Aster's astonishing debut, which is destined to go down as a horror classic. Unsettled by her lack of grief following the death of her enigmatic mother, Annie Graham (Toni Collette) joins an evening bereavement support group, unbeknownst to her husband Steve (Gabriel Byrne). By day, Annie works as a miniaturist, creating tiny rooms populated by figures in her own life – a practice disturbingly imitated by her daughter Charlie (Milly Shapiro), whose penchant for creating makeshift toys extends to nonchalantly snipping the head off a dead pigeon and sticking it to a newly crafted doll. In contrast, big brother Peter (Alex Wolff) is as regular a teen as they come, spending his time smoking pot behind the bike sheds and floundering to impress his class crush. But when unutterable tragedy strikes, repressed grief is released as ceaseless dread. When a woman from the support group (Ann Dowd) urges Annie to hold séances, the family begins to break apart, and Peter becomes the protagonist-victim of an increasingly terrifying, inherited fate. Plot wise, there’s little to separate Hereditary from your average multiplex scare vehicle – its supernatural narrative has more in common with mainstream horrors like The Conjuring (2013) than fellow A24 indies Under the Skin (2014) and The Witch (2015). Moreover, the film doesn’t put forward a singular high-concept gimmick to achieve its frights (as in dethroned horror-of-the-year A Quiet Place), opting instead for the usual eclectic evils: ghosts, dolls, insects and the rest.
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