Tracker Pixel for Entry

​Hereditary: Aster’s Horror Debut Keeps It All in the Family

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Cinema | June 20th, 2018

Scaring up early buzz as a premiere in the Midnight section of the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, Ari Aster’s “Hereditary” is the horror film of the year. Anchored by the vital performance of Toni Collette as grieving, disintegrating mother Annie Graham -- arguably the actor’s career-best work -- the movie’s other noteworthy MVP may just be Pawel Pogorzelski’s sharp cinematography, which features one breathtaking day/night cut so perfect it serves as a reminder that not even the bright sun can ward off the inevitable. Aster, making his feature film debut as writer-director, assembles “Hereditary” with the confidence of a clockmaker, his gifts reflected in the dollhouse designs of both the scale miniatures by Steve Newburn and the life-size environment of the hell house inhabited by the Graham family.

The movie opens with the brief obituary of Ellen Leigh, the mother of Annie. At the funeral, Annie indicates some surprise at the large number of mourners, citing Ellen’s intense secrecy, her difficultness, and her suspicious nature. It’s an early tip-off that Ellen’s fierce sense of personal privacy veiled some awful secrets, and Aster relishes his opportunity to tease out the precise manifestation of family skeletons in the closet. The most devoted genre fans may be able to predict the film’s trajectory with some accuracy, but many viewers will be confronted with disequilibrium designed for maximum anxiety, especially as Aster punctuates the action with some well-timed bombshells.

“Hereditary” maximizes the one-two punch of what several observers have referred to as “slow horror” or “slow burn horror,” which eschews the jump scare and the emphasis on gore in favor of a kind of psychologically-oriented accretion of dread. Aster also supplies bold structural feints, powered in part by the deceptive brilliance of A24’s sensational trailer and marketing. Not everyone has been completely won over by the film’s so-called “art house” factor, however, and some intelligent explorations of the pros and cons of the filmmaker’s technique can be found online for anyone interested in a very deep dive.

Horror aficionados have embraced Aster’s meticulous attention to detail, ringing up comparisons to everything from “Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Shining” to “The Babadook” and “The Witch.” Aster himself reminds viewers that plenty of inspiration was mined from less obvious sources. He has cited “Cries and Whispers,” “Don’t Look Now,” “Ordinary People,” “In the Bedroom,” and several other titles as important texts informing various aspects of “Hereditary.” The cinema-literate filmmaker’s focus on sturdy examples of wrenching family melodrama makes perfect sense as the subtextual concerns of “Hereditary” break through to the surface.

While many fingers remain crossed that Aster will prepare an audio commentary for the eventual home release of “Hereditary,” the devoted must currently settle for multiple viewings and spirited discussions. Whether or not the movie will become a canonized horror classic can’t truly be known for some years, of course, but “Hereditary” certainly has a shot. The film’s minor drawbacks, which count the tip-off casting of Ann Dowd (nothing wrong with the work itself) are outnumbered by the strengths. Principal among them is the respect with which Aster works both the demonic/supernatural angles and the heartbreaking metaphors of serious mental illness straining to unravel a family.  

Recently in:

FARGO – On Sunday, September 23, 2018 at 5:33 a.m., Fargo Police officers responded to medical assist at the McDonalds located at 905 Main Avenue. Once on scene, officers located a male, in his twenties, laying in the parking…

by Ryan Jankeryanjanke@hpr1.comPhoto by Anne BradleyValkyries of the Valley will invade the North Dakota Apartment Wrestling Federation (NDAWF) for Brawl-esque, a variety show that will be held at Prairie Brothers Brewing Company…

Best Bets

Spirit Talk

by HPR Staff

Thursday, September 27, 7-9 p.m.Homewood Suites by Hilton Fargo, 2021 16th St N., FargoGet in touch with the other side! Sunny Dawn Johnston will help you reach the spirit world in this two-hour, eye-opening event. This is a group…

It’s bad enough when his word versus her word regarding sexual assault gets out in a high school hallway, but can you imagine it spreading throughout the national news media? Imagine reliving those events every time you turn on…

We failed to educate the players of “flag” footballI passed all of the American history courses in Morrison County District 54, Little Falls High School, and Moorhead State Teachers College, but I’m often appalled about what…

FARGO - A collection of memories from High Plains Reader's annual Cocktail Showdown. Participants were judged on creativity, flavor, and presentation; and this year we added a new category. Like years before, each establishment was…

by Ryan Jankeryanjanke@hpr1.comAs I sat across from my wife at Himalayan Yak Tuesday evening, it dawned on me that time had slowed down. So often when we go out to eat, we are in a hurry. We get anxious when we aren’t greeted…

Music

Back in the saddle

by Sabrina Hornung

After a long hiatus members of Teenage Lobotomy reunited for the first time in 22 years at Center Fest in Robinson North Dakota this summer. With influences such as Husker Du and the Circle Jerks their high energy immediately had…

Director Craig William Macneill speculates on the infamous legend surrounding Massachusetts murder suspect Lizzie Borden in “Lizzie,” a long-germinating labor of love for star Chloe Sevigny. Working from a screenplay by Bryce…

It may be cliche to say the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, but when wet plate artist Shane Balkowitsch found out that his 15-year-old daughter Abby Balkowitsch was following in his photography footsteps, he was…

by Stella Mehlhoffstellamehlhoff@gmail.com“Our mission is to invigorate civic conversation through intimate and transformative storytelling.” This statement posted on Theatre B’s website and tacked to their studio wall in…

In the approximately three years I’ve been writing for the High Plains Reader it seems I’ve always circled back to comedian Adam Quesnell. First, I wrote about his farewell show before he set out from Fargo and the comedy…

When walking into the new space on 1st Ave N that now houses Drekker brewing, one can only say, “Wow.” The majesty of the interior is unprecedented for a brewery in the region and provides a feeling of awe and astonishment.…

I’m a big man, I’m tall and powerful, but this also causes some issues in the body department. I suffer from acute scoliosis in my lower back, and pain radiates from this area on a daily basis. I have only ever had one massage…

By Melissa Martinmelissamartincounselor@live.comThink back to one of your worst small decisions. Then answer the following questions:How did you make the decision?What happened after the decision?When did you know it was the worst…

by Andrew Alexis Varvelmr.a.alexis.varvel@gmail.com“If a piece of equipment purchased in the 1920s is kept up and can guarantee, at present, an operable rate close to 100 percent and if it can bear the production burden placed on…