Yet another horror film of the year getting an excessive amount of buzz surrounding it. The plot revolves around Anna Graham who at the funeral of her mother admits with whom she had an overwrought relationship. As Anna copes with her death she slowly begins to find out her mother’s life was much of something else than she had expected. This not had an effect on herself, but her husband, daughter, and son.
The general critical consensus seems over positive with a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes and an 87 on Metacritic. However, the opinion of your regular audience member is of a stark contrast holding a D+ CinemaScore, 57% on the Audience Score of RT. Then we have the IMDb 7.9 score and the 7.6 User Score on Metacritic which fairs a bit better. Hereditary is a composite film that very much could be the reason as to its failure to connect with the casual viewer, but even as someone who understands the touches of obscurity, the film lacks on many levels.
Intricate to the Core
One of the strengths of Hereditary is its detailed yet mysterious lore. The story is a puzzle which you have to put together yourself with some pieces missing leaving room for speculation. It’s an interesting movie if you look at it from this perspective. It lends itself well to multiple viewings. The more times you see it the more new things you might start to pick up on. This also contributes to the film’s other positive which the fact that you never know what’s going to happen next. That’s what ideally should make things more engaging however it doesn’t.
A Fortunate Series of Events
This movie is filled with instances when the plot would happen to kick off the right series of events. In too many cases did pieces shift for the sake of the plot. The director went out of his way to state who/what was the reason behind the majority of things, when in reality, a good portion of it doesn’t apply. Are some scenes purposefully trying to emit a sense of absurdity? Sure, but that’s not enough and if anything it comes off more as a lazy excuse to progress the storyline. This point wouldn’t be much of an issue if it didn’t try to act so planned out.
I tried to look around on the Internet for answers in a number of “Ending Explained” videos to show fairness about my assessment. I wanted to make sure that maybe I missed out on a number of things. The analysis would leave out all the plot holes. That or they were provided with an explanation as good as “because it happened”. Another major distraught was the fact the movie would ignore the rules it has previously set up on multiple occasions. The director’s preference was clearly to go for the shock value. The third act truly dropped the ball on this one.
I will go out of my way, with full confidence say Toni Collete’s performance as Anna Graham was bad, at times even terrible. Some would see it as a genius stroke of art, but her portrayal felt disingenuine, distracting and unrealistic. She would overexaggerate her emotions to the point of losing me along. Her hyperbole wasn’t the problem, though. I wanna make that clear because I would be feeling the same things she was if I were in the exact same situation. The problem was the acting herself.
For example, it’s like someone told her to act angry so the actress would be someone who she thought looked angry. Basically putting out a performance without the details and subtly even in the more demanding emotional scenes. Another part of the movie that might’ve fared better if it only wasn’t only one of its prominent factors.
The Artistic Style
On the more opposite spectrum, the symbolic takes work. Right off the get-go, I got a sense of understanding what the film was trying to accomplish. The more you read about the movie’s production, the set structure, the more you see the potential it could’ve had. The movie should’ve borrowed more from this category. The choice of “show, don’t tell”. The more subtle ways of putting things into perspective. All these traits should’ve been in the other areas of the film. By the time the movie ends this is also the part that spoke to me the most as it blended well with the overall vision.
So much potential wasted. Hereditary isn’t the easiest movie to decipher, but that doesn’t make it bad. If anything that’s the part which works. What takes me away from the movie is how it constantly hides reason or rules under style. Although I do appreciate how the film tries to tell its story it shouldn’t also get in its way. Too many things got undervalued. It’s as if the movie was lost its head.