Hereditary: Blu-ray, DVD and VOD

Monday, 15 October 2018 10:07

Hereditary -out now on Blu-ray, DVD and VODThe title of ‘best horror film in decades’ is enthusiastically banded around every year; once in a while there is some merit to the acclaim, often not. In the case of “Hereditary”, the promotional noise was deafening so I was keen to see if the hype and comparisons to “The Exorcist” and “Rosemary’s Baby” were valid. The film opens with the announcement of the death of the Graham family’s matriarch, an event that marks the family’s slow descent into Hell.

Annie (Toni Collette – “The Sixth Sense”, Wanderlust) realises there was much she did not know about her mother’s life. The deeper she digs the worse things get, and Annie can barely hold her emotionally fragmented family together. Daughter Charlie (newcomer Milly Shapiro) develops increasingly weird ticks and draws some troubling pictures, whilst father Steve (Gabriel Byrne – “The Usual Suspects”, “Miller’s Crossing”) and son Peter (Alex Wolff – “Coming through the Rye”) look to each other for support.

Director Ari Aster’s film is a masterclass in building bone-chilling atmosphere, and the supernatural elephant in the room makes its presence felt right from the off. Like “The Witch”, this is a movie that takes its time and uses constant tension and stress to wind up its audience, rather than relying on regular jump shocks and gore. That said, there are some spectacular shocks but their infrequency means the viewer is rarely able to predict their arrival, and they hit home with deadly force.

Collette’s powerhouse performance stands at the centre of the piece, and as she amusingly relates in the making-of feature, she had intended to make some lighter, less emotionally wrought films before jumping on board “Hereditary” because of the stunning script.

The actors playing the other members of the Graham family share the burden. Shapiro is unreadable and almost alien as the young teenager. Her appearance, especially in a red hoody, reminded me of the terrifying dwarf in “Don’t Look Now”, whilst Wolff plays a warmer and more relatable character whose experiences consequently strike at our hearts. One pivotal moment when he is driving home from a party stands out above all others.

As some of Byrne’s scenes were left on the cutting room floor (check out the deleted scenes), he gets less screen time than the others but his performance as Steve is nicely rounded. Anne Dowd’s sweet turn as an attendee at Annie’s grief-dealing groups makes a nice change from her forceful work in The Handmaid’s Tale and The Leftovers.

The cinematography is superb, framing scenes to echo the model interiors that Annie designs for her work. Camera movements are typically smooth and slow pans, a technique common to the haunted house genre, whilst the lighting and heavy shadows draw our gaze into the centre of the image and elevate the inescapable sense of claustrophobia.

If I had to find something to criticise in the movie, the music would be the one element that niggled. The soundtrack by composer Colin Stetson (“Arrival”) certainly gets under your skin, but this is another film where the near-constant musical backdrop refuses to let the viewer make their own decisions about how they should feel.

Finally, as with some of my favourite horror movies (such as “The Blair Witch Project”), there is a sense of bewilderment and otherworldliness at the end that, whilst it may frustrate some people, left me working the film over in my mind and had me craning my neck to check the darker corners of the sitting room. Very few pictures manage that!

Special features include:

  • “Cursed: The True Nature of Hereditary” (20 mins approx)
  • Deleted scenes

“Hereditary” (2018) is out now on Blu-ray, DVD and VOD, courtesy of Entertainment Film Distributors. The main feature has a running time of 127 minutes approx, and carries a '15' certificate.

To buy the Blu-ray, click HERE.

To buy the DVD, click HERE.

 

 

 

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