Hereditary, Ari Aster new film, blends both mental illnesses, the occult, and grief. It perfectly worked hand-in-hand and gave viewers a fresh perspective to the old horror creaky machine genre and still touch the back of the neck and send the chills down our spines.
Hereditary combines the onset of psychiatric disorders from a traumatic event in life and demonology. The theme of the movie works well because first, mental illness can come in all sorts of form, and it empathizes with the viewers giving them something to relate to the characters in the film. Second, we are entirely beguiled to the succession of tragedies that we fumble away from the central theme of the movie, the supernatural and occultism. Lastly, grief comes to all of us, and that’s where the real subject of the film lies which makes it a good horror movie.
The movie starts somberly with Annie and her family dealing with and preparing to attend the wake of her estranged mother. We’re presented immediately with grief, and we sympathize to the tribulation of what the characters are experiencing. Just as everybody in family progressively recovers from the passing of their grandmother, the director suddenly follows it by the death of her younger daughter Charlie, portrayed by Milly Shapiro, in a freak car accident that seems as if her son Peter caused it due to his inebriated. Now, this is the turning point where the occult starts to blend into the narrative of the movie.
We’re still encompassed by the tragic loss of Annie’s daughter because, from the get-go, we assumed that Charlie would be the main antagonist of this film. Her depressed demeanor and dark image that was heavily marketed gave us the impression as if she was Damian from the movie Omen, and that there is something sinister lurking within this child. However that all changed during the tragic car scene, I won’t spoil the rest and left us with a lamented mother and penitent son.
After the death of her daughter, Annie met a grief counselor Joan whom, in turn, is a member of the cult, and during that course, where she builds a relationship, she openly discussed her history of family illness. From her father died of starvation, and her brother taking his own life, and to her mother dying of dementia. At this moment, we are immersive to the family, forgetting the subtleness of what the director implanted right ahead.
I say implanted because, during the moment the screenwriter and director pitched this movie, there is a twist that would grab the general audience. The IT factor that would make it sell. And that’s when the turning point of the movie took place. The public didn’t know what the hell was going on or what was this movie was about. From my point of view, it was a creepy little girl, woman to uncannily screaming, and the word hereditary. The first that popped to my head was another Omen replicate. But it was more than that when I saw it. It was a broken family trying to cope during and trying to salvage what love was left during the time of grief.
By the end of the movie, Ari Aster masked it brilliantly with the occult and gore. But during the first half of the film, it confined us to the reality that death is inevitable, whether it’s instance or instantly occurrence. To me, the horror was during the beginning of the movie, as I can relate to the Annie. Losing a person you love without notices is hard, it self-defeating. But leaving with it day-by-day is much more excruciating. People say time will heal it, but it’s already embedded in the back of your head, that the person that matters to you, the most precious thing in your life, is gone.