MovieMonday: Hereditary

Here we have a horror movie about a family afflicted by some some kind of curse.

We meet the group — two parents, two teenaged children, nice house, Volvo wagon — after the death of the mother’s mother.

At the funeral, the mother, Annie Graham (well played by Toni Collette), delivers a frankly hostile eulogy. At home, Annie is working on an art project that consists of intricate miniature designs of the family home and also of her late mother’s hospital room.

Daughter Charlie (Milly Shapiro) is an expressionless child who draws disturbing pictures, including one of her grandmother in her open coffin. Older brother Peter (Alex Wolff) seems less strange but is bewildered and seeks comfort in his bong.

The father, Steve (Gabriel Byrne), is a traditional family guy whose calm concern contrasts with the increasingly odd behavior of the others as events unfold.

And do they ever. Odd things happen, and then are followed by even odder things. Annie sometimes reacts as a mother might be expected to do, and then sometimes does not. The recurring horror elements include headless bodies and insect invasions.

The title suggests that the dead grandmother bequeathed some strangeness to Annie and Charlie, and possibly to Peter. It’s not for me to tell the story here, but even when it has ended it remains something of a puzzle.

I generally don’t care for horror movies, but this one held my interest because the family interactions made it more interesting than the traditional strangers-gathered-to fight-a-menace tale of older such films. The pacing and cinematography are very good, and the theme is supported by a fine musical score.

Ari Aster wrote and directed the film, his first feature-length movie, but professionals and Vimeo fans have enjoyed “Munchausen”,his much shorter family horror movie that stars Bonnie Bedelia. If you’re on the fence about seeing “Hereditary,” you might watch that 2014 piece first.


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