Tag Archives: Ann Dowd

Hereditary (2018)

9 Jun

Judging from the title alone, you wouldn’t think a movie called Hereditary would be the kind of thing to keep you wide awake at night thinking demons have run amok in your house. Though it was appropriately placed in the Midnight section for its premier at this year’s Sundance, the description in the film guide made it seem like a dysfunctional family indie drama in the same vein as something like The Squid and the Whale. That is not the case. Make no mistake, this film fits squarely in the horror realm – and just might be the most eerily effective one to come along in decades.

Hereditary‘s premise is simple enough: after the untimely death of her mother, Annie (Toni Collette) tries to mend the emotional gaps with her strained and distant family. Her husband Steve (Gabriel Byrne) though loving, is unsupportive and detached while her adolescent son Peter (Alex Wolff) tries to spend every waking moment partying with his friends and away from the family. Strangely, Annie gets closest with her daughter Charlie (Milly Shapiro) after the funeral, though she soon learns that Charlie may have inherited a few ghastly traits from her late grandmother. Annie’s journey in discovering her family history leads her to cross paths with a spiritualist (Ann Dowd) and a few other-worldly beings.

With a runtime of over 2 hours, Hereditary feels a bit weighty from the get go and takes its time getting to the spooks. Patience is rewarded big time during a shocking mid-point twist and things really get cranked up a notch during an emotionally brutal third act. There are moments of almost-unbearable tension in Hereditary; director Ari Aster and cinematographer Pawel Pogorzelski should get all the credit for their amazing work at commanding attention to various parts of the frame in the heat of the moment – even when it’s deeply troubling. Aster is particularly great at creating atmosphere and subverting audience expectations, even those who are well versed in the genre. It’s clear that the first-time director is familiar with great psychological storytellers like Kubrick, Hitchcock, and Polanski; comparisons to The Shining are not that far off.

Unfortunately, the highs of the film are diluted by it’s lengthy runtime that fails to justify itself. There are too many stretched out periods of little substance in the film that drain the terrifying power from it’s better moments (of which there are more than one) so that the real terror fails to be sustained from scene-to-scene. Trim off 10 or 15 minutes and you would have a bona fide horror masterpiece – instead we have some incredibly great scenes sandwiched by lots of filler.

Still, the peaks of Hereditary are just so damn high – usually without resorting to the cheap jump scares audiences have become accustomed to. The performances are all on-point and bring a sense of realism which grounds the superstitious subject matter of spirits and demons. Newcomer Milly Shapiro, in particular, is absolutely fantastic as Charlie and steals every scene she is in. This is a bold piece of cinema, one that boils with intensity and lingers in the subconscious long after the credits roll.

Bottom Line: Although the lengthy runtime tragically dampens the impact of its spookier scenes, Hereditary displays a chilling cinematic intensity and contains some of the boldest and (most importantly) scariest moments in contemporary horror.

Rating: 7.5/10

Film recipe: The Shining + Bug + Paranormal Activity 

Advertisements

2012 film categories

27 Dec

here are my votes for this year in film (films that had their widespread theatrical run from jan-dec 2012) 

 

Best Achievement in Directing:

Lynne Ramsey, We Need To Talk About Kevin

Runner Up: Wes Anderson, Moonrise Kingdom

 

Best Lead Performance by an Actor:

Joaquin Phoenix, The Master

Runner Up: Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook

 

Best Lead Performance by an Actress:

Tilda Swinton, We Need To Talk About Kevin

Runner Up: Noomi Rapace, Prometheus

 

Best Supporting Performance by an Actor:

Emile Hirsch, Killer Joe

Runner Up: Leonardo Dicaprio, Django Unchained

 

Best Supporting Performance by an Actress:

Ann Dowd, Compliance

Runner Up: Amy Adams, The Master

 

Best Original Screenplay:

Moonrise Kingdom

Runner up: Silver Linings Playbook

 

Best Adapted Screenplay:

We Need To Talk About Kevin

Runner Up: Killer Joe

 

Best Cinematography:

We Need To Talk About Kevin

Runner up: The Master

 

Best Film Editing:

Cloud Atlas

Runner Up: We Need To Talk About Kevin

 

Best Make-up and Hairstyling:

Cloud Atlas

Runner Up: Hitchcock

 

Best Sound Mixing & Editing:

Prometheus

Runner Up: Looper

 

Best Score:

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Runner Up: Moonrise Kingdom

 

Best Production Design:

Moonrise Kingdom

Runner Up: Prometheus

 

 

Best Non-English Film:

Holy Motors

Runner Up: Headhunters

 

Best Documentary:

The Imposter

Runner Up: Chasing Ice

 

Best Visual Effects:

Prometheus

Runner Up: The Dark Knight Rises