You don’t tend to think of the horror genre as a source for prestige filmmaking. That could be changing with the Oscar winning success of 2017’s “Get Out,” the acclaimed release of “A Quiet Place” earlier this year, and now the thriller “Hereditary,” which opened June 8 to some of the year’s best reviews. Horrific Oscar contenders aren’t unheard of — consider Best Picture nominee “The Exorcist” (1973) and Best Picture winner “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991) — but they are uncommon.
As of this writing “Hereditary” has scored 87 on MetaCritic based on 42 reviews and 94% freshness on Rotten Tomatoes based on 138 reviews (only 8 of those are negative). The RT consensus describes it as a “harrowing, uncommonly unsettling horror film whose cold touch lingers long beyond the closing credits.” And it might actually have an Oscar-good-luck charm: star Toni Collette, who previously appeared in the Best Picture nominated horror film “The Sixth Sense” (1999), which earned her a nomination of her own for Best Supporting Actress.
The film follows the Graham family, who mourn the death of their matriarch Ellen and discover dark secrets about their ancestry. It also stars Gabriel Byrne, Ann Dowd and Alex Wolff, and it’s the feature film debut of writer-director Ari Aster. If nothing else that could make the film a contender for Best First-Time Director at the next Directors Guild Awards, the same prize Jordan Peele just won for “Get Out.”
Do you think “Hereditary” will be an Oscar contender, or will the academy move on from horror this year? Check out some of the reviews below, and join the discussion on this and more with your fellow movie fans in our forums.
Justin Chang (Los Angeles Times): “The sensationally gifted writer-director Ari Aster may tip his hat to the horror canon … but he has no interest in making a coy, winking exercise in horror pastiche. With breathtaking deliberation and quiet, unshowy mastery, he spins a devastating portrait of an American family in sudden, inexplicable decline.”
April Wolfe (Village Voice): “Just as a child wields godlike power over her dolls, Aster, too, exercises a tight control over his characters, who shuffle from one shocking scene to another in a family tragedy that, seriously, rivals that of the ancient Greeks. ‘Hereditary’ is wicked existential horror.”
Stephanie Zacharek (Time): “Ari Aster’s debut feature ‘Hereditary’ is a movie for the mood of today, unsettling in its arid, controlled creepiness, but largely distinguished by Toni Collette’s intricately layered lead performance, a portrayal of a woman whose love for her family spirals into mad decay.”
Alissa Wilkinson (Vox): “What you feel from the start is a sense of real horror, some kind of cross between dismay and disgust, which starts out almost undefinable and builds to a (literal) crescendo by the end … It is one wild, wild movie.”