I have held Get Out like the best horror film of this past decade, but I am not sure about that after this fourth watch of Hereditary.
I consider Hereditary to be more a compelling character drama rather than a straight-up horror film. Even the lighting in this film is not that of a typical horror. In most horror films, the lighting is very dark to create a more ominous and treacherous atmosphere. But in this film, the lighting is considerably bright, looking even more like a drama. A drama with horror elements that do not kick in until the third act of the film.
What I like about Hereditary is that it stands out from the usual James Wan horror movie formula we have been used to seeing, loaded with so many jump scares. It is rare to find a horror film where its primary purpose is not frightening the viewer but telling the story in the best way possible, and if the viewer gets some scary chills along the way, all the better. I like the way the film opens, with the camera creeping into the miniature house, suggesting that there might be something odd going on with that place. It is the perfect way to set the mood of the film, and this bizarre and unsafe feeling we get from those first shots stays with us for the rest of the way.
What keeps this movie together is the directing. The directing is nothing flashy like it is in, for example, Get Out, but it is bold, it lingers when it needs to, it closes in when it needs to, and it gets uncomfortably close when it needs to (the grief scene). Ari did a fantastic job with this film, and he did well with Midsommar also, and now stands alongside Peele and Eggers as one of the best directors when it comes to horror.
Even though Aster did an excellent work writing and directing the movie, the one that shines above all in this film is its lead actress Toni Collette. She is phenomenal here, waltzing around and owing every scene she's on. There is one scene in particular that I consider it to be one of the best of this past decade, and it is all because of Toni's outrageous and demanding performance (the arguing scene with Alex Wolff's character). She was like, "I'm going to take a solo now guys, watch me, but try on keeping your jaws off the floor." And the academy not nominating her was an act of war that everybody let it slide.
Hereditary is a gripping horror, is a challenging film that it's not afraid to take risks. The movie "plays" with the viewer, changing in between its acts the usual horror elements, from psychological to the supernatural, giving the audience a hard time deciding whether they're watching a harrowing drama or an abnormal horror. But I think that it's always good to trust your public, and I'm glad they decided to do so here. They made some smart decisions in this film and created something very original, a gem for every film-lover.