Review / ‘Hereditary’ (MA) *

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CIRCUMSTANCES beyond my control obliged me to leave the screening of this curate’s egg of a movie, touted as a great horror film, about an hour before it ended but quite early there was a passage that confirmed an impression that had been building in me since about an hour previously.

It’s director Ari Aster’s feature film debut after a small handful of short films produced, directed and written by himself. In it, Toni Collette plays housewife and mother Annie whose forebears and siblings have all died in mysterious and awkward circumstances. Her husband Steve (Gabriel Byrne) puts up with her somnambulism. Their 18-year-old son Peter (Alex Wolff) had been smoking weed before he crashed the car in which he was bringing his 13-year-old sister Charlie (Millie Shapiro) home after a kids’ party went pear shaped for her.

What was a 13-year-old doing at such a party? Well, when Peter asked to borrow the car, Annie insisted that Charlie accompany him, since the kids were too young to have access to alcohol.

Where had Annie been all her life to that point? It solidified my feelings about the film. Annie’s emotional friability was compounded by a woman member of a community group saying she is a medium and inviting her home to make contact with Charlie in the afterworld. I understand there are people who believe that to be possible. I am not one such and when I got a message about a problem needing my attention, I was not dismayed to leave the film early.

I was impressed by Toni Collette’s displays of Annie’s anger, hysteria, fear and general emotional instability. Apart from that, nothing I saw during my time watching “Hereditary” persuaded me of either credibility or horror. Horrible, horrid, perhaps.

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Dougal Macdonald
“CityNews” film reviewer

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