Hereditary

 (14,902)
7.32 h 7 min2018X-RayHDRUHDR
When the secretive matriarch of the Graham family dies, her daughter’s family find themselves haunted by the sinister fate they have inherited.
Directors
Ari Aster
Starring
Toni ColletteAlex WolffMilly Shapiro
Genres
SuspenseHorrorDrama
Subtitles
English [CC]
Audio languages
English
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Supporting actors
Gabriel Byrne
Producers
Gabriel ByrneTyler CampelloneScott E. ChesterToni ColletteBeau FerrisKevin Scott FrakesJonathan GardnerWilliam KayLars Knudsen
Studio
A24 Distribution LLC
Rating
R (Restricted)
Content advisory
Violencesubstance usenudityfrightening scenesfoul language
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Format
Prime Video (streaming online video)
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Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

14902 global ratings

  1. 67% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 12% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 10% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 4% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 7% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

cambium0Reviewed in the United States on December 31, 2018
4.0 out of 5 stars
What a downer
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Actually as can be seen by my four star rating, I liked the film. All the acting was great, and I suppose the cinematography was great too.

Typically in a horror film we root for the final girl or guy or whatever. But in this one, after Charlie is killed in an accident in which her brother was highly contributorially negligent, it was clear that there would be no recovery for the good guys. You can't recover from that. Ignoring the supernatural stuff for the moment, this movie details the events that relentlessly slam a family until it breaks. A family that's had it tough has it even tougher and basically succumbs to a very evil fate, despite their not really being bad people and even the mother's attempt to sacrifice herself for her son who she tried to miscarry. Self sacrifice usually works, but not here.

The grandmother was not well liked, even by her own daughter (the 'mother' annie). She was 'always right' and aloof and just a pain in the ass. Towards the end she had dementia apparently.

The son Peter and his mother Annie had a really bad relationship. Annie confesses to Peter that she did 'all the things' that were popularly supposed to cause a miscarriage, but they didn't work. She didn't want to have him, but did anyway. Annie also was a sleepwalker and one night she awoke while standing over a bed in which her husband and young son Peter were sleeping, they being drenched in flammable paint remover, and her holding a lit match. This parallels Annie's attempt to burn a sketchbook that has become something of a "horcrux" to borrow from the HP mythos in that it has some spiritual/physical connection to the person who is currently possessed by Paim. She drenches it in lighter fluid and throws it into the fire, but it is her husband who has been possessed at this point, so instead of Annie being consumed by flame, her husband is. However, Paim clearly escapes the husband and enters Annie's body. Now, if he could do this, enter a body at will, then why does the coven have to drive Peter's soul out of his body so that Paim can inhabit it? Why does paim need the coven at all, appart from them getting somebody to read the incantation? Also why does Annie, being possessed by Paim, chase Peter around the house--why can't Paim just cross over to Peter? Well one answer that would fit with all of these complaints is that Paim cannot escape a host until it dies, or perhaps as it dies. So given that Paim was in Charlie since her birth, Charlie's death was required before Paim could escape and enter a new host. We are also told that Paim seeks the weakest person available, and prefers males since his essence is male. Still makes no sense for Annie to chase Peter, and all the two references to Peter potentially losing his head like other characters in the film don't make sense since they want to preserve him for Paim. However, the coven leader indicates that they made a mistake by putting paim in Charlie since she is a girl (they wanted a boy). So they 'correct' that mistake by killing charlie. Where does Paim go after that? Ie what's the chain of custody on Paim's spirit--it's broken after Charlie and he next enters, apparently the husband at some point. That's why the husband won't consent to burn the book for Annie, because he's actually possessed by Paim and burning the book would drive him out of his host. But now we must realize that when Annie goes to burn the book for the first time and she catches fire, that means that Paim was in her then. But we know paim doesn't like to be in women, so at some point he gets out and into somebody else. Maybe I missed it but he must get into the husband at some point. Maybe there's some indication of this in the shot we get in the husband's office when he's drinking whiskey.

The miniature making thing is clearly stolen from that peter dinklage film. If this vision is so original, why does it steal from Rosemary's baby and the peter dinklage film? And the miniatures didn't really get involved in the plot at all, they were just showing us what Annie was obsessing over.

What did heredity have to do with anything? Well, I believe the answer to this is provided by one line in which Annie proclaims that she's discovered that she is a medium. I guess not just anyone can carry off a seance. And she then inherited this from her mother, and judging from the poster, Charlie inherited it from her. Oh, how the heck did Annie's mother manage to breast feed charlie? whatever.

Why did Annie try and miscarry Peter, and later attempt to burn him alive? Because she knew at some level that he would become the host for Paim.

the beheadings. They are probably a way of killing a body without allowing its soul to go anywhere. Charlie's beheading: Ostensibly charlie had an alergic reaction to some walnuts that were in the chocolate cake at the party. Charlie loves chocolate, and they made chocolate cake with walnuts, which she is alergic to. Sounds like a plan. So when her throat swells up and she's struggling to breath, she sticks her head out of the car as Peter is speeding to the hospital. There is a deer dead in the road and when Peter swerves to avoid it, charlie's head strikes a lamp post and she loses her head. While it appared that Peter was grossly contributorily negligent in charlie's gruesome death, it's made clear that it was the will of the coven. The coven's symbol is shown on the power post that charlie's face smashes in to.

The grandmother's beheading: the coven dug her up and placed her in the family house in the attic so that she would be there during the seance, which requires all the family members. I would assume just the living ones, but this must have added something. the body was there but the head was missing. The missing head apparently allows the spirit of the dead person to take their place among the demons, in hell or whatever. The severed head is associated with royalty. Maybe charlie became a princess?

Annie's beheading: Annie is possessed by Paim for a time after her husband bursts into flame. During this time she pursues Peter but he evades her. Not sure why she pursues peter since killing him would make him unavailable as a host for paim. Maybe she just wanted to subdue him. But after peter goes to the attic and sees the location where the body of his grandmother was, and sees some other spooky stuff, he sees his mother up in the rafters, apparently she got in through some break in the roof. She's steadily sawing off her own head with wire. After Peter sees some spooky naked coven people, he dives out of a window and falls into the garden below. As he lays there motionless we hear Annie's head sever and hit the floor. Peter comes to and sees his mother's body carried through the air to the tree house near the family home. He follows it and climbs up to find the coven (both live and dead--his mother and grandmother are also prostrate before the christ-looking king figure there) there prostrate in reverence for some royal of hell. One of the living coven members places a crown on Peter's head and speaks words to Paim indicating that this is the new host they have gotten for him. So... the point is that upon his mother's self beheading, Paim was freed from her and he entered Peter.

Peter's beheading in Annie's dream: earlier peter had a dream in which arms emerged from behind the headboard of his bed and were tugging at his head, apparenlty trying to decapitate him. He wakes to find his mother standing near his bed. though he accuses her of doing this she was too far to have been doing it, we think. Anyway Annie herself has dreamt that Peter's head was severed from his body and covered with ants, like Charlie's was after he beheading. Maybe this represents her last ditch effort to keep Peter from hosting Paim--beheading him. But it only occurs in a dream.
8 people found this helpful
CJSReviewed in the United States on July 21, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Uplifting in a really weird way (no pun intended)
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I don't scare easily but this movie made me sleep with the light on. I get why there are a lot of 5 star reviews, and I get why there's a lot of 1 star reviews. For everyone that didn't like/understand it, I want to say I'm happy for you, but honestly I'm more concerned maybe the kind of personal tragedy this movie resonates with has yet to befall you. In which case... Jesus, watch out! For everyone else, it has a way of crawling inside you, as if the movie had ripped a page or two from your own family history.

Easily the best horror movie made in years, I think. That's not to say it's not without flaws. Even The Shining has flaws. Like The Shining, it could have benefited from a little more character development, I agree with that criticism of this movie. We spend a lot of time with this family but we still don't feel like we know them. And I get that to a certain extent that's the point, but the movie's strongest moments are when the characters' respective baggage is explored in specificity, and there needed to be more of that. Some scenes are supposed to be intimate, but we feel alienated instead, because the details of everything preceding the events of the film are explained in oblique terms, and so we are left to project ourselves onto blank slates if we want to make sense of some of the characters' more questionable decisions.

The movie abruptly gets REAL STUPID in the middle. It's like this sandwich of extremely gut-wrenching drama where you can't imagine what you would do if put in the same situation... and then the meat of this sandwich (THE THING THAT DRIVES THE PLOT FOR THE ENTIRE SECOND HALF OF THE MOVIE) is baloney. Every link in the chain of events starting at Peter asking his mom to go to the party is made out of moon logic. It kind of seems like the writers were just in a hurry to get to the telephone pole scene. I've watched this movie twice now, and while I'll sing its praises, the middle is painful to watch each time because these characters that feel very realistic for the rest of the running time suddenly start behaving very unrealistically. I can only make sense of it by assuming Annie secretly wanted her son to screw up. But I'd still argue that's out of character. If there was some way to fix that whole act in post, they should do it, because it's a blemish on an otherwise masterful film.

Instead of any other horror movie, I'd say the cinematography (which is probably the best part of the film, with Toni Collette's acting coming in close second) reminds me the most of Breaking Bad. Breaking Bad itself is pretty horrifying, and this is pretty much the same deal; lingering voyeuristic shots documenting the nightmarish disintegration of a family. Like Breaking Bad, you feel like a sadist for wanting to watch it multiple times, because if you really do feel for these characters, it seems cruel to watch their lives fall apart over and over again. But it's therapeutic, because from the objectivity of the camera lens, the tragedy feels beautifully choreographed. You get the sense that maybe horrible things DO happen for a good reason, albeit not a reason that might end up benefiting you personally.

Like Breaking Bad, there's a focus on portraying ordinary objects, remarks, and situations in extraordinary, symbolic terms. But unlike Breaking Bad, Hereditary addresses this commentary IN THE FILM. Hereditary doesn't quite break the 4th wall, but it bangs pretty damn hard on the glass. Challenging the audience to not dismiss strange events in their own lives as isolated incidents: "What if that symbol meant something?" "What if it's a sign?" "What if that lecture you tuned out contained a pertinent warning?" "What if you've actually seen these faces before?" "What if you're being manipulated?" "What if there's a pattern?" "What if you're being watched?" "What if your movie has already started, but you won't be allowed to see the big picture until the bitter end?"

The ending alone is worth watching the whole thing. I've never seen something so absurd and yet so terrifying. The final frame hasn't really stopped playing in my head since I first saw it; "trapped by enlightenment". And this would also be a good time to point out that I'm really impressed with the special effects. The ending wouldn't have been a tenth as impactful if the way the ghosts float didn't perfectly balance a sense of the person being in the room but not being constrained by the laws of physics.

But that's not what I meant by "uplifting". I mean that even though the characters could have been fleshed out more, the raw emotion shines through. This does feel like you could be watching a real family (and in a sense you are) who all love eachother, but don't know how to break the silence. And because they can't open up, they're torn apart. It's not a feel-good movie by any stretch. It's horrible! But I've heard people say that after leaving the theater, the first thing they wanted to do was go home and hug everyone, and that was definitely what ended up sitting with me. For all the themes of doom and futility, the takeaway message isn't that we should all just give up and lay down in the dirt, but instead that you should tell people you care about them, because you never know when the opportunity to do so is going to be gone. In most movies, the idea of evil being defeated by the power of love is super corny. But in watching the Leigh family fail to cling together in desperate times, you see the importance of love in action. Abusive people can be an insidious presence in a home, and sometimes the people trying to protect you are the ones you need protecting from, but there's a fine line between cutting off an abuser and shutting out your loved ones. The people closest to you will always have the most potential to hurt you. But at the 11th hour, you have to let go of distrust and resentment if you want love and healing to start again, because you don't want anything, ANYTHING, bad to happen to them.
KEITHReviewed in the United States on July 4, 2022
4.0 out of 5 stars
A Split Tension Binge
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I love it when a movie is promoted to be good, and it really is. Especially an action flick or a horror movie. "Hereditary" is the product of a collection of refined details. A very sharply honed story. Trodding ponderously in a maze of ambiguous relationships, this brooding meditation becomes a study film; a tracking beam of intriguing moods.
The focus of the movie is the household of a strong nuclear family. As sorcery displaces, the intense moods of furtive darkness and estrangement are captured. In the terrestrial landscapes, of large open spaces where Annie Graham walks, the sun sets, often residing on the parking lot of a meeting house or retail store. Annie finds friendly aquaintances. A vein of impending horror is in the paranoid tensions of the family. As morbid events invade the Graham family, reminding them of their intrusion in the past, an eerie collage of unexplainable evils begin to occur. This subtle and invasive witchcraft provokes sudden emotion, and it causes worry that one of the family will accuse the other. Will Annie fly into a rage? Will Charly become bereft of her senses? There is a chance that all the virtues of this close and semi-somber family will be reversed and used to destroy peace.
Toni Collette, as the mother Annie has pantomoimed a frenetic spectrum of bipolar emotions in the extreme. Toni Colette's facial lines and mild introversion is an amalgam of famous distressed heroins of some classic horror films, as well as some gritty blue-collar dramas. Just when you think 'my God it's happening', Collette is there to scream, and then she goes and collects herself disjointedly. Psychology is going to deteriorate, and be the impetus of an unjust attitude or the feeling of victimization which will ellicit revenge. Annie is extraordinary, and without over emphasizing it, her character has reigned in her rage and shock and has solidified her confidence. There are no portrayals of effulgent affections, but Annie has a divine perseverance. It is through Toni Colette's presentation that observations are processed on the power of sensory manipulation. There is within all loving people that pcychedelic culture that resolves to bring missing persons back from death, so that a spirit remonstrates in safety.
How do you deal with morbid death? The second plot scheme of the story interrupts stealthily, in incidents brief but very sharp. The Graham family deal with loss as best as one could hope, but there is a conspiracy. Interference from the spirit world. Within this puzzle, anger and boredom are causing strange revelations. To retie strands of dark, lyrical poetry, light colored wall paper and a reverberant pipe with a lift off of pitch plays through out. "Hereditary" is art as film. It forces us to ingest deep melodies pensively.
The humanitarian artist, when he/she threads drama, induces the observer in an insight about the nature of the human character. The crafted thriller's empire breeds in transcending story changes. This is a first time effort for both the writing and directing by Ari Aster. This movie really is a satysfying and fun diversion.
JohnReviewed in the United States on February 4, 2019
4.0 out of 5 stars
Not your typical thriller - worth the watch
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For those that have yet to see the film, let me offer you important advice before going in:

This is not a "horror film". This is not a "scary movie" designed to frighten moviegoers. It is slow-paced, and ripe with symbolism and metaphors. The over-arching theme of the film is not spelled out to the viewers, and this I believe is intentional. Have a look at the 1-star reviews (as I did after watching the film) and take note of the most common complaints. "Too slow", "no plot", "not scary", etc. These people have completely missed the point of the film and were expecting a blockbuster fright-fest. Now, is it perfect? No, but it is quite good and is a pleasant surprise for me personally. Watch it, and then read the next part of my review.

***Spoilers***

Hereditary is a day-trip into the life of the mentally unwell, and is both entertaining and educational. The following is of course my own theory, and should be taken with a grain of salt.

The plot of the movie is broken into two perspectives: Mother and Son. All of the events in the film revolve around the perspective of these two (main) characters. Because of this, we (the viewer) only see "reality" through these two characters. Our first sign of the main theme of the film is when the Mother joins the "grief club". She describes her family history, and how her Mother/Brother* have been afflicted with mental illness ranging from Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and dementia. While the science and our understanding of these conditions are far from finished, we do see a genetic link - there is a high chance that these mental problems can be passed down. To me, this says a LOT about the theme of the film (even the name "Hereditary" gives it away).

The next biggest "giveaway" the director/writer gives us is right after the Son hurts himself at school (later in the film), and the Mother/Father are talking about the corpse in the attic. The Father accuses the Mother of being responsible for desecrating her Mother's grave, and depositing her body in the attic (headless). As the scenes moves along, the Father is visibly distraught, and distant. I believe this is the breaking point in which he cannot continue to pretend his wife is mentally stable. You see, I believe that the "paranormal" or "occult" themes of the film are not reality. We only see it happening because we are seeing it through the eyes of our (mentally unwell) main characters. What could trigger such a fierce set of hallucinations (both auditory/visual, (see: Son hallucinating in class scenes for example)? The accident. Yes, the Daughter does really die as a result of her brother's mistakes. This event begins a spiraling down for our main characters, with the Mother sleep-walking and hallucinating as the Son tries to cope with the burden of accidentally killing his sister as a result of his selfishness.

We can see, at the same time, the Father attempting to cope with this increase in his family's instability. I see the Father as our grounding point, our reference so to speak, to "reality". Skeptical of his wife's stories and behavior, he clings desperately to keep things together. From personal experience, I can relate with the Father. This I believe is the "real" character development for him - our connection to his struggle. It would be understandable then, that not everyone would relate to him as a character.

Let me finish this by discussing the ending, a point of contention for a lot of viewers for "lack of closure". While I partly agree, I think the conclusion is nowhere near as important as the journey. The "ending" of the film begins after the Father discovers the corpse in the attic, and his ability to ignore his wife's behavior fails. As we can see, the Mother begins pleading with her husband to trust her, and help her. He refuses, and explains his need to contact the police. I believe, in reality, the Mother then kills her husband by setting him on fire. In her reality, the action of throwing the notebook into the fire kills him. However, earlier in the film we are introduced to the Mother's history of potentially manic or dis-associative episodes involving immolation. At this point I believe she takes her life in the Daughter's tree house, overcome by grief. When the Son awakes, he discovers the charred remains of his father, and his (now deceased) mother. The final (very strange) occult scene is seen through the hallucinations of the Son. The film concludes.

Hereditary is an emotional thriller, and constantly tests the viewer with very (emotionally) disturbing scenes that are relatable. Personally, the scene where the Father is attempting to console his wife after discovering the corpse of their daughter hits close to home, and is hard to watch. There is a lot more to talk about, some of the more subtle imagery used throughout the film, but that is far from necessary in an Amazon review. I do highly recommend a second viewing with this knowledge in hand.
Laura DunhamReviewed in the United States on September 18, 2022
4.0 out of 5 stars
im scared
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this movie gave my friend and I a great horrifying scream. I am truly scared to drive home now. so thanks for this great thrill. this movie truly puts the horror in horror movie.
Stephen WillsReviewed in the United States on September 11, 2022
4.0 out of 5 stars
Really Good Real Life Horror
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This movie was scary, and the visual effects were soooooo good! Shout out to them. The only issue is I had to watch an "ending explained" video to fully appreciate the film. Other than that, a must watch
AndrewReviewed in the United States on May 3, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
First and foremost a brilliantly executed tragedy
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This is meticulously crafted slow burn horror. I dislike most horror flicks because frequently the things people do and say make no sense: for example, someone dies and thirty seconds later there is a jump scare and an (unfunny) one liner. That is simply not the way people deal with death or frightening situations.
This movie is a refreshing exception: virtually no jump scares and no stupid one liners. In fact (non specific spoiler here) this movie is first and foremost a tragedy. The emotional meat of the movie revolves around this family as each family member deals with tragedy and isolates into their own private, spiraling, deteriorating internal hell-state. For the most part, their flailing ability to cope, their behavior and dialogue makes total sense. Kudos to the cast who sold it: each was exceptional, especially Toni Collette, I empathized with her at every turn. This movie is chock full of clues signalling the audience that this will be a tragedy.
My biggest problem is the ending. Without revealing spoilers I'll just say that I didn't hate it, but felt it did not live up to the intensity of drama, the unsettling sense of foreboding and the escalating crisis that preceded it. It lacked emotional payoff. It just wasn't entirely satisfying; in part this is a function of the nature of tragedy, however, it is possible to provide emotional payoff, even with a tragic ending.

Spoiler criticism of ending/Do not read if you have not already seen this movie:
It comes back to the problem I mentioned previously-actions and dialogue that do not make sense, in this case, on Ellen's behalf, Annie's deceased mother. In the letter Ellen left behind for Annie, she said something about the reward/payoff their family would receive in return for the sacrifice they will be making. But hear me out: what sort of reward in this life or the afterlife would be worth the price Ellen was willing to pay? She not only brought irreversible death, dismay and tragedy upon her kids, grandkids and family but apparently she was the primary architect of her family's demise, and for what? What reward could possibly make it all worthwhile? We do not really know Ellen as she died just before the movie begins but she did seem to love and care about her family. She may have been a manipulative control freak but what could convince her that any reward would be worth the total destruction of her seemingly entire family? In the end, it felt like a serviceable supernatural explanation but not one that provided any payoff that the audience can really empathize with. Perhaps more information about Paimon, Ellen, or Ellen's relationship with this cult would have helped. Personally, I had an: "OK, so that's what's going on" sort of response to the ending, but that's about it.
Still, despite reservations about the ending, this is a deeply harrowing, creepy, unsettling movie and probably the best, most expertly crafted "tragi-horror" I have seen in many years. Highly recommend it for audiences who want scary but hate mainstream Hollywood horror chock full of jump scares and one liners. It was a much more successful effort at atmosphere/tension building than The Witch although both movies went the route of a slow, steady atmosphere build.
One final note: perhaps because this movie earns every emotion it gets from the audience, the emotions it generates are much more nuanced and intense than your typical jump-scare horror flick. Specifically, this is a movie that does not trivialize death or tragedy the way so many horror movies do. As such, every single scene right up to the ending is imbued with a heaviness, a terrible sense of loss and sorrow. That is combined with a building sense of doom, fear and tension that never subsides.
In short, for the right audience, this is near perfect tragedy/horror despite some issues with the ending. The score and cinematography were both inspired... and Toni Collette is one hell of an actress. It is worth watching for the cast's first rate performances alone.
Ashley WingoReviewed in the United States on September 16, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
Excellent Movie
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It’s the type of movie you can tell someone about, but you still have to go watch it for yourself. The cast was amazing with a big twist I wasn’t expecting.
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