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Sunday, October 31, 2021

31 DAYS OF HORROR 2021 -Day 31: HEREDITARY (2018)

                      A mother's desperate grief opens the door to something unspeakably dark.

Two back-to-back deaths — the first an old lady, and the second a thirteen-year-old girl who meets her fate in a horrifying accident — send a family spiraling down a maelstrom of grief, dysfunction, and open hostility. Annie (Toni Collette, who turns in a shattering performance), the old lady's estranged daughter, as well as the mother of the young girl, becomes an emotional wreck after the one-two punch of the loss of family members, especially her daughter, and when she sits in on a support group for people grieving over loved ones, she makes a friend who offers a solution to her problems...

I really can't say anything more without giving away a lot, so I'll end the synopsis here. 

HEREDITARY is the first film from director Ari Aster, the creative mind behind the superb MIDSOMMAR (2019), and the flavors found in that effort are also found here. First of all, it's a very slow burn that takes a while to get going. It initially plays out as a lugubriously-paced and quite depressing family drama and a study of how said family handles grief (or doesn't),and I have to admit that I wondered if I had been misled by all of the talk about what a brilliant new voice in horror Aster brings to the screen. I was not connecting with it and I was ready to write it off as something along the lines of Ang Lee's 1997 study of family dysfunction, THE ICE STORM (which is a great movie, BTW), until the narrative reaches the point of the young girl's hideous death and its aftermath. From then on I was riveted, as I wanted to see how the family would cope with not only the death, but the way in which Annie found her daughter's corpse. Seriously, it's truly horrible, and Annie, a skilled artisan who crafts detailed miniatures, expresses her grief via her art. That's the point when the film subtly shifts from a family drama to ever-escalating balls-out horror, and trust me when I tell that it is both disturbing and very, very bleak. I won't state where it goes, but it veers into a flavor of horror that I often find dull and uninteresting, yet Aster's assured hand ramps up the skin-crawling terror and delivers in no uncertain terms.

BOTTOM LINE: Trust yer Bunche on this one and check it out. Again, it gets off to a very slow start, but absolutely stick with it. If it helps, I'll give you this one guideline, specifically that things pick up when Annie pressures her son into taking his younger sister with him to a party...

And with that recommendation, we have reached the end of the 2021 edition of 31 DAYS OF HORROR. It's been a tough time for all of us over the past year-plus, and the real world has often been more horrifying than anything found in movie and TV confections meant to put the frighteners on us, but scary entertainment is just that, entertainment, and sometimes that's just what we need in order to feel just a bit better. HAPPY HALLOWEEN, from this aging monster kid!!!

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