There's been an awful lot of hoopla surrounding Hereditary, the first feature-length film by Ari Aster. It has received the ineluctable comparisons to The Exorcist and The Shining that seem to follow any well-received horror film. Critics are calling it a "masterpiece", "the scariest film of the year", and all the other common praises one might expect. Unfortunately, these types of compliments are bestowed upon so many run-of-the-mill fright pictures that it's rather difficult to, as they say, "believe the hype". Sure, films that receive an abundance of acclaim from a large number of people are generally worth checking out, but they often fail to live up to the lofty standards set by the buzz that surrounds them. I saw Hereditary, completely aware of the overwhelming adoration for it. My mind was open, but I suspected that it would be another victim of its own critical success.
Believe the hype.
Hereditary is worthy of every rave, every kind word, and every properly horrified reaction it has garnered. Weaving together domestic family drama and spook show shock tactics, the film is successfully unnerving on a number of levels. Demons permeate the entire film: some are of Hell, others are of the mind, but all are used to great effective. If tense, uncomfortable drama doesn't work for you, supernatural scares will be offered. Not bothered by ghosts and demons? Visceral violence might. Hereditary employs a wide variety of methods to get under your skin.
The film begins with an obituary and a funeral, firmly establishing Death's prominent presence throughout the picture. Annie Graham (Toni Collette), daughter of the deceased, gives an eulogy about the strained history she shared with her departed mother. Their complex relationship was exacerbated when Annie refused to let her mother near her first-born son when he was born, but Annie did allow her to form a close connection with her daughter, Charlie. Charlie is heartbroken by the death, but Annie's feelings are more complicated. As they move forward from the passing, strange things begin to happen to this family. Strange things like... well, we wouldn't dare spoil the fun for you.
Much of Hereditary may seem familiar to horror aficionados: creepy dollhouses, vengeful spirits, seances, plot elements similar to those in Rosemary's Baby, a parent gradually becoming more unhinged, and many other classical things I'm sure I'm forgetting. However, like all tools, these old tropes are only as good as the artists wielding them. In lesser hands, these details may have seemed hoary or trite, but Ari Aster utilizes these materials to a paint a picture of horror that feels startlingly fresh, even if it draws from the old masters. His style recalls Dario Argento, but Hereditary is far from an Argento pastiche. It lingers when it must, it zips along when it adds to the thrills, and it presents its frights with the kind of cinematic panche that makes a good horror film a timeless one.
Toni Collette is simply magnificent here. To delve into The Shining comparisons this film has so rightfully earned, Collette starts the film as a Wendy and gradually morphs into a Jack as the film continues. She's heartbreaking one moment and horrifying the next. Even when her character says or does some rather ghastly things (in both a horror movie sense and realistic sense), the audience is still with her. Fractured, flawed, and haunting, Collette's performance is unforgettable. It will be a damn shame if Collette doesn't get an Oscar nomination for her work here.
It's rare when I say this, but I truly believe that Hereditary is destined to become a modern classic. It's an artful scare picture that's both emotionally devastating and utterly gruesome. Listen to the critics on this one; Hereditary is one fine yelp yarn.
The 2018 Dark Circus did NOT disappoint!! It was going to be hard to live up to what I had told people about last year's, but I'm happy to report another five out of five, upside down crosses for this year's festivities. Check out the video and see for yourself. :)
A wee sample of some of the High-lights from this year's Endless Night Vampire Ball (Hell-A Edition, held on 2/23/18), which is always a freakily fangt-ass-tic event. If you're feelin' a bit o'fomo, have no fear, my lil' Kinkbots! The fine folks behind this evil event are also planning a wicked weekend in Vampy Vegas cumming up in April. Deets here if you're interested in getting your festive freak on. :)
"Suck it!! " (aka High-light's from last year's Endless Night LA Vampire Ball)
"I'll Sleep When You're Dead: Part 1 of 64"
Do you love cats, cards, gatling guns, and Norm MacDonald but don't have time to watch them all separately? My friend sensed this urgent need in the marketplace and vowed to fill it. So enjoy the long overdue, "I'll Sleep When You're Dead".
My Interview with Clint Freakin' Howard!!!
(nude Clint Howard and snow globes...need I say more?)
High History: Why I love Scream so much!
(remember to finish him)