7:00 PM, 28th July, 2018
Annie Graham, an artist obsessed with dioramas and dollhouses, reluctantly seeks counsel from a support group after struggling with the death of her estranged and private mother. Annie and her family’s lives gradually unravel as she uncovers more about herself, her mother, and the secrets of their ancestry.
A triumphant feature debut from Ari Aster – inspired by classics such as The Exorcist, Don’t Look Now and Rosemary’s Baby – Hereditary is a slow and terrifying burn. Devoid of the contemporary, cheap ‘jump-scares’, it gradually builds its bone-chilling tension, whilst blurring the line between psychological horror and the occult.
Hereditary’s success rests squarely on the shoulders of its sensational cast: a jaw-dropping, Oscar-worthy performance from Toni Collette as the deteriorating Annie, Gabriel Byrne as Annie’s supportive husband, Milly Shapiro as her gauche teenage daughter, and the incredible Alex Wolff as her eldest son, who bears the brunt of the inherited trauma, yet attempts to maintain a normal life amidst the unfolding calamity.
Described as ‘truly, upsettingly powerful on an emotional level’, Aster uses grief, trauma and mental illness to cleverly distort perceptions – what is real, metaphor and supernatural comes into question – resulting in a spectacularly successful, complex and deeply unnerving film.
9:18 PM, 28th July, 2018
One of the best things about ANUFG is having the opportunity to enjoy thematic double-features, and this one is perfect. Don’t Look Now, without question, was one of the inspirations for this year’s highly acclaimed Hereditary.
Upon its release in the early ‘70s, Don’t Look Now created quite an uproar and quickly became famous for two reasons: firstly, the inclusion of a love scene between Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie that was so intimate and well-shot that the public believed it was real.
And secondly, Don’t Look Now was heralded as one of the most effective horror films with its skilful blend of special effects and innovative editing, and its slow and terrifying build to a mind-blowing climax. It maintains a 96% score on Rotten Tomatoes, and sits at number eight in the British Film Institute’s Top 100 British films of all time.
As you can see, I am purposely avoiding spoilers for both Don’t Look Now and Hereditary. Both films focus on the psychology behind grief and the traumatic effect of the death of a loved one, along with elements of the supernatural. If you enjoy horror cinema, you must experience both of these spectacular, unorthodox, and frightening films.