Blu-ray Review: Hereditary

STUDIO: Lionsgate | DIRECTOR: Arri Aster | CAST: Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne,Alex Wolff Ann Dowd, Milly Shapiro
RELEASE DATE: Sept. 4, 2018 | PRICE: DVD $14.96, Blu-ray $27.99, 4K Ultra HD $24.96
BONUSES: featurette, deleted scenes
SPECS: R | 127 min. | Horror | 2.35:1 widescreen | DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1/Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish and English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video  | Overall

Coming hot on the heels of such family-focused horror hits as 2017’s Get Out and this year’s A Quiet Place, Hereditary finds its own dark space in the field and delivers a truly creepy experience derived from the characters’ own home and kinfolk.

In a tour-de-force, award-worthy performance, Toni Collette (Please Stand By) plays Annie Graham, a middle-aged artist who builds miniature dioramas inspired by her real-life experiences. After her mother passes away, the skeletons from her closet start to appear, which begin to raise questions about Annie difficult relationship with late parent. Seeking help, she joins a support group for grief.

At home, Annie’s solemn husband (Gabriel Byrne, Louder Than Bombs) tries to offer her some encouragement, while her children—a daughter named Charlie (Milly Shapiro, Made in Hollywood) with behavioral issues and a pot-smoking high school student son Peter (Alex Wolff, My Friend Dahmer)—begin acting stranger. Meanwhile, at her group discussions, Annie is befriended by Joan (Ann Dowd, American Animals), a woman attempting to get over the tragic death of her daughter who shows Annie how to communicate with the dead—and also claims to have known Annie’s mother.

It’s not long before more tragedy strikes and all hell breaks loose. Literally.

Making his feature debut, writer/director Arri Aster impresses with his atmospheric style, slow-burn rhythms and an expert handling of his cast, particularly the always terrific but perpetually underrated Collette. She’s the central figure of the film, an emotional mess trying to keep both herself and her brood together as the diabolical nature of her mother’s past begin to possess her and others in the household.

Hereditary is continually unnerving even when not a whole lot may be taking place dramatically on-screen. It’s the anticipation and sense of dread that creeps us out, but when Hereditary becomes more graphic and, sometimes, disturbingly over-the-top, it truly delivers, beginning with a scene involving Annie’s young daughter that will surely elicit jumps from even the most seasoned of scare veterans.

Along the way, Aster pays tribute to the usual suspects like The Shining, The Haunting, The Wicker Man and, particularly, Rosemary’s Baby. But the filmmaker’s salutes are organic, never calling attention to themselves. For a first feature, like Jordan Peele’s Get Out, this is mightily impressive work. Because Hereditary doesn’t have the satiric chops of Get Out or the atypical—dare we say “gimmicky”?—approach of A Quiet Place, it relies on classic creepiness to tell its supernatural-tinged tale.

Buy or Rent Hereditary

About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.