‘Hereditary’ Review

Director: Ari Aster

Writer: Ari Aster

Cast: Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, Gabriel Byrne and Ann Dowd

Synopsis: When the matriarch of the Graham family passes away her daughter’s family begins to unravel cryptic and increasingly terrifying secrets about their ancestry.

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

A24 as a studio is killing it right now, and when it comes to their horror films, they only have – really – two of them now. The Witch turned a lot of heads and now you have Hereditary. The film also turned a lot of heads, and some are even calling it the best horror film in some time, as well, as a modern day Exorcist. Obviously, those are very big claims to make, and doesn’t help if people are willing to accept that. So, does Hereditary live up to the hype, or is just another independent horror film that is overhyped?

Hereditary follows the Graham family with mother Annie (Toni Collette), father Steve (Gabriel Byrne) and their two children Peter (Alex Wolff) and Charlie (Milly Shapiro). After the death of Annie’s mother, Annie gets lost in her work of miniature sculptures and Charlie starts to exhibit weird behavior. Things only get worse when strange and unexplainable incidents start to occur.

That’s the bare bones of Hereditary’s story, and that’s about all you should know before walking into to watch it yourself. Hereditary truly works when you know nothing about the movie. Even if you’ve seen the trailers, believe me, it doesn’t give away anything about the movie. That being said, even though the movie is marketed as a horror movie, at the end of the day, Hereditary is a family drama through-and-through.

All credit goes to first time feature film director/writer Ari Aster, who crafted a compelling story about this family and adding horror elements that actually make sense to the history of the characters, and aren’t thrown in for the sake of having a scare or making the film creepy for audiences. There is enough of that to go around, but in this particular film, the scares are connected to the Graham family. We get a great sense of why the characters act like they do, and more important, what has led them to where they are now.

But as much credit Aster should get, Hereditary is carried by Toni Collette. She is put through the ringer here, and she carries it in stride. Her performance as Annie and the slow descent she goes through in the movie is amazing to watch, and one of the standout performances of the year by far. Alex Wolff is also given a breakout performance here as the young son, who also goes through his own mental descent, and newcomer Milly Shapiro as Charlie also breaks out in her own way as the younger Graham family member.

The main thing about Hereditary, much like a lot of independent horror films now, is that it will not be for everyone. Hereditary, like The Witch and even It Comes at Night, is an aggressive slow-burn that will test your patience, and then reward you with nightmare fuel in a grand finale. That said, the family drama keeps you invested – hopefully – but the slow burn will likely keep people from being fully invested, and once the third act kicks in, it might be too late.

All in all, Hereditary will definitely not be for everyone. It’s a slow burn family drama horror film that keeps the main scares at bay, while trying to creep you out in meantime. The film is carried by Toni Collette, who brings the right amount of range to everything that is asked of her. If you’re watching Hereditary and ask yourself at the end, “what the hell was that?” You’ve seen the right movie

Hereditary

3.5 out of 5

Advertisements

The Movie Pit Spoiler Reviews – The Mummy & It Comes at Night

The third installment of The Movie Pit Spoiler Reviews is here!

This week it’s A24’s newest film, It Comes at Night and Universal Pictures’ first film in their new shared monsters universe – Dark Universe – in The Mummy.

 

‘It Comes at Night’ Review

Director: Trey Edward Schults

Writers: Trey Edward Schults

Cast: Joel Edgerton, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Carmen Ejogo, Christopher Abbott and Riley Keough

Synopsis: Secure within a desolate home as an unnatural threat terrorizes the world, a man has established a tenuous domestic order with his wife and son, but this will soon be put to test when a desperate young family arrives seeking refuge.

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

A24 is back at it with the horror-thriller and unnerving game with It Comes at Night. Although the trailers make the film seem like a bonafide horror film, It Comes at Night is much more than that, and leaves you sitting there wondering not just you’re watching, but just how you are going to cope with what you experienced.

The film follows the family of father, Paul (Joel Edgerton), wife Sarah (Carmen Ejogo) and son Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), who secure themselves in a house in the woods from an unknown disease that has struck. The family does what they can to protect themselves: wear gas masks and gloves in case they come into contact with the infected, board up all the windows of the house, keep the red door closed and never – ever – go out at night. One day they come into contact with Will (Christopher Abbot), who says he has a family tucked away. Paul eventually, even though he does it reluctantly, goes with Will to get his family so all of them can be together. At first everything is fine, but soon tensions arise when things start to happen.

It Comes at Night works best when the paranoia is at its peak. The film mostly takes place inside the house, which immediately adds the tension because the house is almost always completely dark. It also doesn’t help that the film has multiple tracking shots into darkness that finally get illuminated at the last second, leaving you wondering if something is going to pop out? Will someone be standing in the corner? Or will it be nothing just leaving you on the edge of your seat?

However, even with the horror and post-apocalyptic aspects the film has, It Comes at Night also works as a family drama. The film opens with a death and Edgerton’s Paul makes it known to Travis, Will and through some of his actions, he’ll do whatever it takes to protect his family. Edgerton is also fantastic in this, as he pays the role with the utmost subtly but is a force when it comes to the quiet moments. Abbot’s Will also has some moments to shine and put his protective father mindset around the end of the film. These actions make you think, what would you do in that situation?

However, one of highlights of the cast is Kelvin Harrison Jr.’s Travis. He acts a little bit like a surrogate for us, even though he’s already in the thick of it. He also plays an important part of the film that I don’t want to get into too much, but it involves one of the more imaginative and tension-filled moments of the film. Unfortunately, Riley Keough’s Kim, Will’s wife, and Carmen Ejogo’s Sarah don’t get enough screen time to really get to know them too much, especially Keough, although she is involved in one of the more disturbing scenes.

All in all, It Comes at Night is a slow-burn kind of film, and while the marketing doesn’t do the film justice, it does make up for it by leaving you wonder where the film will go and how far it will too. Be ready to be just a bit depressed once this film ends.

It Comes At Night

4 out of 5

‘Lights Out’ Review

lights_out

Director: David F. Sandberg

Writer: Eric Heisserer

Cast: Teresa Palmer, Gabriel Bateman, Alexander DiPersia, Billy Burke, Alicia Vela-Bailey, Andi Osho, and Maria Bello

Synopsis: When her little brother, Martin, experiences the same events that once tested her sanity, Rebecca works to unlock the truth behind the terror, which brings her face to face with an entity that has an attachment to their mother, Sophie.

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

Are you – or were – afraid of the dark? It’s okay, so was I. Luckily, we didn’t have a crazed entity coming after us, unless you did and if that’s the case, I’m very sorry. But let’s about the movie Lights Out shall we. The film is loosely based off David F. Sandberg’s short film of the same name, and Sandberg returns to direct a feature-length film that expands on his idea and gives us a story that is more than just a horror film. It’s also helps that he has, arguably, one of the best horror directors as a producer in James Wan.

The film has a simple enough premise. Rebecca (Palmer), who lives alone, finds out that her little brother Martin (Bateman) hasn’t been sleeping after his father – her step-dad – has passed away. However, it isn’t because he’s depressed, it’s because their mother Sophie (Bell) has been presumably talking to herself at night. When Rebecca, reluctantly does back to see her mother, she finds out that Martin has heard – and maybe even seen – someone she thought she was done with: Diana. Eventually, Martin and Rebecca soon find out that Diana isn’t just a figment of their mentally-ill mother’s imagination, but a real creepy – and dangerous – entity that only appears in when the lights go out.

MV5BMjE0Mjc0Mzk5MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTYxNDgzOTE@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,999_AL_

I have to hand it to Sandberg, who does a great job in his first big film, of course he had help with Wan as a producer, but Sandberg handled himself pretty well. He wasn’t afraid to take chances with his own work, and even managed to create a pretty well done iteration of his short film at the beginning of the film, with his original lead star in Lotta Losten, and Billy Burke.

While the trailers for Lights Out are all about making us afraid of the dark, there is a good family drama story in the film. Rebecca and her mother Sophie haven’t talked in years – a specific number isn’t given – and the only thing is holding them together feels like it is Martin. Once they come together, you can tell they don’t want to be in the same room. Surprisingly, it’s this aspect that I wish was expanded, considering the movie is only an hour and twenty-one minutes.

lights-out-trailer-warner-bros-530x296

That’s not to say the horror moments don’t work or aren’t effective, because they sure as hell do and are. Lights Out is based off the idea that when the lights go out, something is about to go down, and it does. The scenes are tense and nerve-racking that will make you look at every corner of the screen to see where Diana is going to pop out of. Sandberg and cinematographer Marc Spicer even put their actors in the thick of it as they used as much natural light as they could. This shows in the film because it feels like you are right there in the dark with the characters.

The cast also pulls everything together. Palmer’s Rebecca has a great arc in the film with her little brother Martin that has a good progression, and Gabriel Bateman as Martin holds his own, and isn’t the annoying little kid in most horror movies. Alexander DiPersia plays Bret, someone Rebecca is seeing, who brings some levity to the otherwise dramatic or horrifying scenes. Maria Bello is a bit wasted here, as she doesn’t have enough screen time as she should. Her character however is a tragic one. Her mental-illness makes her an easy character to feel for, but again, she’s rarely in the film until the final act of the film. Finally, Alicia Vela-Bailey plays Diana. It’s hard to tell sometimes when Vela-Bailey was actually on set, and when she was a CGI character, because of Vela-Bailey’s performance when she is actually there is so convincing and scary as hell. Every time she moves you can hear clicks and what may be bones readjusting themselves, needless to say, Diana is sure to give you nightmares.

Lights Out works on a lot of accountants, but it does take a misstep when it starts to cluck together a lot of exposition to explain why Diana is back and targeting this family. The reasoning is okay, but the way they went about it was mishandled.

MV5BNDlhYzg0OWYtNDg1OC00MjA1LThlOTktNjJkNDc3NThiNzhmXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjEwNTM2Mzc@._V1_SY1000_SX1500_AL_

All in all, Lights Out is a scare-worthy horror film that is sure to make you afraid of the dark again. It does take a misstep trying to make sense of it all, but overall the cast and frightening and tense-filled horror moments making Lights Out a great directorial debut by the man that created the short film the feature-length film is based on.

Lights Out

4 out of 5