I saw Hereditary yesterday with two of my sometime cinema buddies1. There were roughly twelve people in a 5.05pm showing on a beautifully sunny Friday evening. There were also three instances of cinema staff coming in, walking halfway up the aisle and looking around. Presumably counting audience or checking we weren’t naughtily stealing VIP seating. It made me wonder if the cinema select appropriate moments during each film for that to happen on a strict schedule or whether it sometimes happens at a moment of intense action or suspense. All three were in quieter moments of calm in this case.
I was very excited to see the film but left feeling a little underwhelmed. There was certainly plenty of tension and interesting visual choices for a horror film but it didn’t really add up to much by the end. I’ll admit I couldn’t fully get some of the images out of my head as I went to sleep last night and as I woke up this morning, so it clearly invaded my consciousness. When I left the cinema though, it was in a state of slight disbelief rather than of terror or elation at making it through.
There were some great moments of family drama, the power of guilt and unspoken resentment bubbling under every interaction. The ‘horror thing’ it turns out the film is about is weaker than the tension and relationships they’d built up, hence my disappointment. I did admire the commitment to the ‘horror thing’ however.
This is often the problem with horror for me. It’s a roller-coaster that you might want to get back on and re-experience, but more likely will slowly merge in with all the other rides you’ve taken. The rare horror film with substance2 is what I hoped Hereditary might be, but wasn’t.
1 James Walker wanted to be mentioned specifically as one of those friends. Jay did not specifically mention it but is clearly also being mentioned.
2 The Babadook is the best example I can think of, though The Thing is also an important one for me.