Hereditary is a 2018 American supernatural horror film written and directed by Ari Aster, in his feature directorial debut. It stars Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro and Gabriel Byrne as a family haunted after the death of their secretive grandmother.
Annie’s estranged mother, Ellen, who has been living with Annie and her family in their house, dies. At the funeral 13-year-old daughter, Charlie, draws her grandmother lying in her coffin, which is disapproved off by her father Steve. Following the funeral, Charlie begins to exhibit strange behavior, asking her mother who will take care of her now that her grandmother is gone. A disturbing fact is revealed when Annie says that Charlie was her mother’s favourite and even breastfed her! Annie sees an apparition of Ellen in her workshop but it disappears when she switched on the light.
Annie also attends a support group to talk about her mother’s death and her family’s history with mental illness. Peter is forced to take Charlie with him when he lies about going to a late evening school event, which is actually a party. While he is smoking pot, Charlie eats some chocolate cake which has nuts in it. Allergic to nuts, she suffers from a angioedema attack and Peter rushes her to a hospital. Charlie however opens a window to stick her head out and breath more easily and is decapitated when Peter sveres to avoid hitting a dear and Charlie’s head hits a telephone pole. Peter is stunned and goes home and lies in bed and Annie finds her daughter’s severed head in the car and screams.
Annie is befriended by Joan, a fellow support group member who says she lost her son & grandson and eventually she goes to Joan’s home for a talk. Annie starts to have violent nightmares while sleepwalking. At dinner that night, Annie explodes at Peter, revealing her harbored resentment and blame towards him in regards to the accident, to which Peter counters by telling Annie that she was the one who convinced Charlie to go; this further stresses their relationship. Joan has Annie taken through a seance but the latter has a breakdown in between. Joan instructs Annie to perform the séance with all of her family members present and one of Charlie’s possessions, which will form a link to Charlie’s spirit during the séance. On her way back home, Annie hears the tongue clicking noise Charlie frequently made in her car.
After another nightmare in which she & Peter are killed in flames, Annie apologies to her son and asks him & Steven to take part in a seance. bjects begin to move and break, terrifying Peter, and Charlie seemingly possesses Annie until Steve douses her with water. In Joan’s apartment, lit candles line the shelves, while a picture of Peter with his eyes crossed out sits in the middle of a pentagram on Joan’s table. Peter spots Joan from across the street during lunchtime at school, who screams at Peter to get out. At her home, Annie sees Joan in several photos of her mothers and is shocked that the two knew each other. Annie discovers a book with information about a demon named Paimon, one of the eight kings of Hell who requires the body of a male host in order to achieve his full potential. Annie ventures into the attic and finds a decapitated body with strange symbols on the wall written in blood and presumes it to be Ellen’s.
At school Peter becomes possessed temporarily and knows his head on his desk until he is knocked out. Steve is called from work to pick him up from school. Once he returns home, Annie shows Steve her mother’s body and the sketchbook. Annie begs Steve to burn the sketchbook so she can sacrifice herself in order to stop the haunting, but Steve assumes she has gone mad, accusing her of desecrating Ellen’s grave herself. When Annie throws the book into the fireplace herself, Steve bursts into flames instead. Annie stares in shock and becomes possessed. Peter later wakes up at night and is chased by his mother Annie, possessed and levitating, chases him into the attic, where Peter begs her to return to her senses.
Within the attic, Peter is met with decorations of cult imagery as well as more coven members; Annie, floating within the air, beheads herself with a piano wire as the coven members look on. Peter jumps out of the window in order to escape them. As he lies on the ground, Paimon possesses his body and he wakes up. He follows Annie’s levitating corpse into Charlie’s treehouse, where Charlie’s crowned, decapitated head rests atop a mannequin. Joan, other coven members and the headless corpses of his mother and grandmother bow to him. Joan swears an oath to him as Paimon, stating that he has been liberated from his female host, Charlie, and is free to rule over them.
Though some of the movie is a bit dull and it fails to take off for a while, I think by the end the horror kicks in and we get into some scares and atmospheric scenes. Collette’s performance is top notch and adds to the effectiveness of this movie. The movie made over $79 million on a $10 million budget to become A24’s highest-grossing film worldwide.8 outta 10.