REVIEW: Hereditary breaks from genre conventions, but not in worthwhile fashion

Halfway through Hereditary, I started to wonder when the psychological slow burn would fade and the scares would begin.

The trailer, the hype, the posters all strap viewers in for a supernatural, dysfunctional family horror film, akin to The Shining or Amityville Horror.

What I actually got was a hell of a different path, and while no one can predict the ending, that doesn’t make it particularly good.

The film follows a mother — fraught with emotional baggage — who attempts to care for her husband, disturbed daughter and teenage son after the death of the matriarch who had been living with them.

Toni Collette — most famous for her Oscar-nominated turn as mother to a boy who can see ghosts in The Sixth Sense — is fantastic here as Annie. When I say ‘fantastic,’ I mean Oscar-worthy.

In fact, she’s the best part of this odd, completely off-the-rails film, start to finish. The first half — which comes with its own surprises — plays like a family drama building to something deeply unsettling.

But at about 80 minutes in, director Ari Aster takes so many twists and turns that by the end of the film, I was equal parts horrified, dizzied and in full disbelief.

There are some absolutely terrifying scenes, and images that will stick in my head forever. But I’m just not sure the end justifies the means in this case.

With an IMDB rating of 8/10, an incredible 93 per cent from RottenTomatoes critics, and a D- CinemaScore from crowds leaving the theatre last weekend, it seems audiences and professionals are split on this one.

Proceed with caution: The scares you do get might not be worth the puzzled feeling you get leaving the theatre.

2/5 Stars

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