Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

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Big Ben
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Re: Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

#26 Post by Big Ben » Thu Jun 14, 2018 8:20 pm

Aster pretty much confirmed:
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That there really is a demon. Paimon is very much a force in the film.

Speaking for myself I think it's also possible that Paimon's presence has not been helping these individuals with said illnesses. I base this off of the fact that two of her family members suffered grisly deaths as well (Her father and brother.) I speak only for myself when saying this but I feel that Annie was very much aware something was not right but chose to bury not just her own feelings but the possibility that her Mother was far more nefarious than she appeared. I'm not implying that she knew everything of course but that the possibility was there and she refused to acknowledge it. There's a lot of violence in Hereditary but it's very much the venomous emotional kind.

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Finch
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Re: Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

#27 Post by Finch » Fri Jun 15, 2018 6:38 pm

Thought it was solid, with Collette and the score being exceptional. The accident scene and the first seance scene unnerved me the most. I'd say though that the script needed to make father and son more into characters of their own, Byrne in particular feels wasted. Could have done without the voiceover at film's end as it was clear to me what was happening. The clues were very there right from the beginning, verbal and visual, so I felt this didn't need spelling out. Would be interested in seeing the three hour cut if Aster ever wants to release it, if only to hopefully get more character-building scenes for Leigh snr and jnr.

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Re: Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

#28 Post by pandroid7 » Mon Jun 18, 2018 9:44 am

nitin wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 7:25 am
I will go against the grain and say that I thought the script was terrible and there was hardly any worthwhile characterisation beyond what was required for plot mechanics. There is more to being an effective horror film than just being a slow burn mood piece. Between this and A Quiet Place, I am clearly out of touch with what passes for an effective horror film in 2018.
Same. Both of these films have fallen short for me, sadly. I enjoyed aspects of both, but neither left me affected in the way I was hoping. As for Hereditary, I enjoyed Colin Stetson's score (although that's no surprise as he's always excellent, and his particular talents are a good fit for horror), and I dug the incorporation of the dollhouse/miniatures as a device for playing with perspective and cinematography. I found it to be an interesting movie to look at in general; I wasn't ever visually bored. For a haunted house slow burn, you sure as shit better deliver on the exploration of space/location choice, and I thought it did well on that front too.

Collette was excellent. There were times when the hysteria line was straddled by other characters in a way that made me more inclined to laugh than be spooked, but when it came to her performance, that was never a factor. I found the two children to be sketched in a pretty two dimensional fashion. With Peter, we have these pretty pointless, brief moments where we're made aware of his crush on a female classmate who has maybe three lines in the whole movie, and...he smokes pot? That's about all I can really nail down about his personality. Since this film clocks in at over two hours, which is more than you usually get with mainstream horror, I feel like there was time to flesh out the children as people more than they did. The film instead elects to spend more time trying to bite off more than it can chew in terms of the themes of grief and mental illness and how they affect perception.

I have a friend who is touchy about mental illness portrayal in horror films, and I tend to disagree with her about it because with horror, we're operating past a sense of realism right out of the gate. And, generally, we're also dealing with a tone that isn't akin to a drama that's raising big questions that it attempts to answer. A big part of the reason this film didn't work for me is that it felt tonally confused.
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We have scenes like the incredibly intense one of Annie mourning the death of her child while Steve holds her so it feels like a film that wants to be taken seriously in this respect yet it doesn't really offer much in terms of saying anything about these themes beyond using them as a plot device.
Again, normally I wouldn't expect this out of this type of horror film, but I felt like I was being put in a different headspace the first hour or so than I was in the latter half so it left me a little bereft. Which brings me to Charlie. All of this combined made me uncomfortable with the usage of a character that seems to be loosely defined as being on the spectrum (I think? Because again, we’re not really given much to go on) as a poorly sketched person who is mostly a plot device. Some of the vagueness about Charlie is fine. As Zedz mentioned, the nature of the references to her odd relationship with her grandmother were more effective when left less detailed. But...to introduce this character just to kill her off and to use her verbal tics as jump scare fodder kind of left me cringing. If I get flamed for saying that, oh well. Again, normally this isn't even a hot button thing for me in horror, but I had a pretty automatic, visceral reaction to it here. So much so that I was kind of surprised to not have heard something similar from anyone I know yet (although to be fair, I enforce a really strong "DON'T EVEN TELL ME THE TINIEST THING" policy about film with friends because I like to go in to every film as blind as possible). I wasn't sure what the film was trying to tell about any of the more somber themes it incorporated other than using them as an unsettling backdrop. Which...fine. It doesn't have to do more, but the feeling that it wanted to made the whole experience a bit uneven for me.

So overall, it was underwhelming for me, but I'm always happy to see what worked for other people and why. The subjective nature of what works for who and why is always especially intriguing in horror. I enjoyed reading everyone's thoughts on here.

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swo17
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Re: Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

#29 Post by swo17 » Mon Jun 18, 2018 10:15 am

I just learned that sets for this film were largely furnished with antiques from my father-in-law's store. My home is similarly furnished. Don't think I'll ever be able to watch this...

nitin
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Re: Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

#30 Post by nitin » Mon Jun 18, 2018 10:19 am

slow zoom into swo17’s face...

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Big Ben
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Re: Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

#31 Post by Big Ben » Mon Jun 18, 2018 11:39 am

I feel the horror proper that is to say the ooga booga stuff is really secondary to the familial aspect of the film. The horror proper is a culprit here but the anger and repressed grief is really far more horrific in the long term in my opinion. Hereditary is about say, ghosts in the same way Moby Dick is about the whale. Yes the whale plays a major role in the story but I think most people would be remiss to say that the whale was the point of the book.

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Lost Highway
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Re: Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

#32 Post by Lost Highway » Mon Jun 18, 2018 4:24 pm

I went for a rare outing to the cinema to see this because social media seems desperate to spoil this for me and the backlash which follows all “elevated horror” films is just round the corner.

I found most the film very unsettling and initially I felt slightly let down by how conventional denouement was. The end reminded me of
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Paranormal Activity 3,
a far less skillfully made film which I didn’t expect much from and therefore was less likely to disappoint (I think it’s rather good, certainly the best in the series). After a build up which feels so unconventional it comes as a surprise how thoroughly the film embraces genre conventions by the end. Much of the spooky climax worked though, especially when it slowly dawns on you that a barely perceptible character in the dark defies the laws of physics. Unlike It Comes at Night which was a different movie that its marketing promised, this delivers on its trailer and then some.

That said, I think Heredetary is a keeper and the end will play far better for me on a second viewing. The entire film is reverse engineered and there are so many almost imperceptible clues as to where it is heading. Not many modern horror films trust their audience to have the patience for a series to accumulating details to slowly come together like this. As a horror film it’s so well made. Everything looks mundane and yet slightly off, it has the sinister beauty of Gregory Crewdson’s photographs. This also has the best use of surround sound in a long time, one of Charlie’s tongue clicks which Peter hears late in the film, was right next to my head.

The only films which spooked me like this are first half of The Shining (before Nicholson turns it into a black comedy), the first half hour of Lost Highway (till it morphs into a gangster film) and Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Kairo/Pulse.

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DarkImbecile
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Re: Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

#33 Post by DarkImbecile » Tue Jun 19, 2018 1:53 pm

nitin wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 7:25 am
I will go against the grain and say that I thought the script was terrible and there was hardly any worthwhile characterisation beyond what was required for plot mechanics. There is more to being an effective horror film than just being a slow burn mood piece.
I saw this again the other night, and could not disagree more about the script, which is even more intricately constructed than I fully appreciated the first time, and provides more characterization for Collette in just the dream sequence than most protagonists get in non-genre films. The film manages to clearly establish and shade its two key characters in an intricate and densely plotted story with copious background detail, while incorporating multiple motifs and stylistic elements in rewarding fashion, and also being scary as all hell (subjectivity caveat, etc.).

While I’m disagreeing, I’d also take issue with AO Scott’s criticism that the conclusion of the film abandons Collette and renders “her entire internal drama a colossal red herring”; as I alluded to in the first post (and as the title of the film implies) the main corrosive element destroying this family isn’t grief (though obviously that’s a factor) but mental illness, and the generational impact it can have from grandparents to grandchildren and beyond. This perspective renders what Collette’s character goes through as anything but a red herring like Janet Leigh’s character in Psycho, and the script and her performance do more than enough to ensure that we grasp the weight of that internal drama Scott describes.

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DarkImbecile
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Re: Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

#34 Post by DarkImbecile » Tue Jun 19, 2018 2:06 pm

zedz wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 4:06 pm
- Too many arbitrary shock effects. I found It Follows well over-rated, and its horror premise too silly to bear much thought, but it had a clarity and consistency that helped it maintain a mood of dread. The everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach of the last half-hour or so left me less and less invested in the narrative.
Can you explain what you mean by "arbitrary" here? There aren't any cats jumping out of cabinets or anything, and I'm having a hard time of thinking of "shocks" that don't advance the narrative or deepen our understanding of what's happening except maybe the
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moment with Collette smashing her had into the attic hideaway door, which worked for me because it's preceded by only the sound with no explanation for a good thirty seconds, and then the reveal serves to heighten the wrongness of what's happening to her (as does the absolutely terrifying expression and side-glare she gives while sawing away with the piano wire later.
zedz wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 4:06 pm
- Dumb horror-movie behaviour a-go-go. You get up in a dark house in the middle of the night, hearing scary sounds, seeing horrible things, but you don't bother turning on a light?
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You come across a carefully composed black magic tableaux in your attic, complete with defaced photo of your beloved son, but you don't try and disrupt whatever terrible thing it's doing by messing it up? More bluntly: you don't get the fuck out of that house and warn your family?
It's not chronic, like the majority of horror movies, but it's still lazy.
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Collette didn't find that tableaux you describe, Alex Wolff's character does when he finally makes it into the attic; she may well have been the one who set it up while he was unconscious. Also, as I said in the post above, she's exhibiting a multitude of signs of mental illness - just think of that scene in which she's trying to convince Byrne to throw the book in the fire - and is not exactly capable of rational thought.
zedz wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 4:06 pm
Speaking of lazy, the shot of text explaining the film's plot is not only ridiculously clunky, it also comes early enough to destroy most of the remaining mystery about the film ("Oh, so that's what's going on").
Sure, in the most literal of senses it explains the broad strokes of what is happening, but don't tell me you read those two sentences and predicted exactly how the next 25 minutes play out. Why it's happening is not a fraction as interesting as how, as in most good films.

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Re: Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

#35 Post by MongooseCmr » Tue Jun 19, 2018 2:29 pm

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I was really stunned by Charlie’s death so early on. Never in a million years would I have guessed that could happen, least of all to the most heavily marketed aspect of the film. It completely throws off the fact that the film literally spells out its twist in the first five minutes to anyone with any concept of horror. That said I felt like her death left a real void that the movie struggles to fill with increasingly elaborate plot. Corpse stealing, bad family history, seances, cursed books, immolation, wall crawling, naked cultists. Last years multiplex art-horror film It Comes at Night failed because it had nothing going on, and this almost fails for having too much. In the span of 20 minutes you forget how much of the film was about a mother grieving her dead child and struggling to keep not grieving her mother.

But by the time the boy is possessed I was able to embrace it as fun trash. Once it start’s explaining the demons name you just have to laugh and roll with it. I really expected his response to “heed his word and serve him” to be a tongue click, which would have completely saved the film.

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Lost Highway
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Re: Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

#36 Post by Lost Highway » Tue Jun 19, 2018 2:35 pm

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The did a good job of misdirection with the publicity and the trailer. For once the movie isn't spoiled by a trailer. It sets the audience up to expect an evil/possessed-kid horror movie, which takes the Janet Leigh route half an hour in.

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headacheboy
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Re: Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

#37 Post by headacheboy » Tue Jun 19, 2018 4:55 pm

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I'm with MongooseCmr, I was absolutely thrown for a loop by Charlie's death. Most trailers seem to give away every plot point and ending, but this didn't. When I saw the trailer I knew I'd never go to see it because I didn't want to attend another possessed kid horror film. But this discussion and other buzz (whoever posted the short films, thank you)drew me into the theatre (and I wanted to go before it was spoiled by some website). When the car accident happened I kept thinking she has to be dead, she could not have survived the trauma. What the heck will they do with her now? Is she coming back from the dead? I couldn't let go of the notion she has to be alive because the trailer shows her all through the trailer! While I didn't necessarily dig that ending, it was still so far off the mark of what I expected from the trailer that I was reasonably satisfied that it defied my expectations.
edited twice for spelling errors

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zedz
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Re: Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

#38 Post by zedz » Tue Jun 19, 2018 5:24 pm

DarkImbecile wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 2:06 pm
zedz wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 4:06 pm
- Too many arbitrary shock effects. I found It Follows well over-rated, and its horror premise too silly to bear much thought, but it had a clarity and consistency that helped it maintain a mood of dread. The everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach of the last half-hour or so left me less and less invested in the narrative.
Can you explain what you mean by "arbitrary" here? There aren't any cats jumping out of cabinets or anything, and I'm having a hard time of thinking of "shocks" that don't advance the narrative or deepen our understanding of what's happening except maybe the
SpoilerShow
moment with Collette smashing her had into the attic hideaway door, which worked for me because it's preceded by only the sound with no explanation for a good thirty seconds, and then the reveal serves to heighten the wrongness of what's happening to her (as does the absolutely terrifying expression and side-glare she gives while sawing away with the piano wire later.
There's that, but there are also a bunch of startling images in the final section that are there to be startling horror movie images to liven up a trailer and don't really follow on from the quiet slow-burn mood of the rest of the film, like
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Byrne bursting into flame, Collette hanging from the rafters and sawing off her own head with cheese wire, multiple rotting ghouls appearing from the shadows rather than the two we already know about.
The day-to-night lightswitch effect is a shock effect too, it's just a banal and dumb one. They cram so many different, unprecedented (in the film, but very familiar from the genre) horror visuals into that last stretch that the mood they've established dissipates and you're waiting for the projectile vomit, chanting hooded acolytes or dragons to arrive.
zedz wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 4:06 pm
Speaking of lazy, the shot of text explaining the film's plot is not only ridiculously clunky, it also comes early enough to destroy most of the remaining mystery about the film ("Oh, so that's what's going on").
Sure, in the most literal of senses it explains the broad strokes of what is happening, but don't tell me you read those two sentences and predicted exactly how the next 25 minutes play out. Why it's happening is not a fraction as interesting as how, as in most good films.
I agree, but - as per above - if the how is ham-handed and much less interesting than the rest of the film, then without the mystery of the what and why, we're left with a whole lot of nicely shot empty calories.

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Re: Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

#39 Post by mfunk9786 » Wed Jun 20, 2018 11:33 pm

Zedz's posts here pretty much echo my thoughts on this. Rosemary's Baby earns its length with supremely excellent pacing but this film is all over the place with both its logic and when it seems to almost cynically toss off a scare to keep the audience from falling asleep. Really losing touch with what critics are willing to throw hyperbole at after festivals like SXSW or wherever all the ridiculous quotes in the trailer for this one originated. And I agree that Collette is very good, but there are definitely times when she is pushing the boundaries of ham. Luckily for her, 75% of the movie is spent with the camera on Alex Wolff's face while he trembles and gasps and slobbers his way through a performance with little to no magnetism to speak of, so it is a breath of fresh air when Collette or Byrne reappear.

And despite being largely a prop for the director to (safely) exploit here, Milly Shapiro is a captivating presence and I hope she doesn't have dozens of "hey, look at this girl, how straaaaange!!!!" roles in her future.

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Re: Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

#40 Post by JamesF » Wed Jun 27, 2018 5:58 am

I had a lot of fun with the escalating insanity of the third act and I'm not convinced that Aster's tongue isn't lodged firmly in his cheek to at least some degree.

The film reminded me a lot of February and The Witch, and obviously there's some similarity in how all three films ultimately resolve; hopefully this isn't a well that A24 return to too often in case of diminishing returns!

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Re: Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

#41 Post by jazzo » Wed Jun 27, 2018 2:25 pm

The film left me feeling as conflicted as I believe it is, itself.

First the good:

It’s beautifully constructed. Aster’s eye is terrific, and the almost airless pace matches the stately composition of his shots. The effect of his day/night jump cuts, to me, echoed Kubrick’s use of title cards in The Shining, and were wonderfully jarring and oddly comedic. His use of the dioramas as a way to convey a sense of family history and dysfunction delighted me.

Collette is astonishing, somehow able to maintain a sense of heightened hysteria that I haven’t seen since Shelley Duvall in The Shining, or Marilyn Burns in Texas Chainsaw Massacre (both performances by women, and it strikes me now, as an aside, that, except for John Lithgow in Twilight Zone: The Movie, I can’t actually recall many male performances achieving those same levels of panic. I’m not saying they don’t exist, I just can’t recall them). And, yet, while reaching those heights, Collette is still, somehow, able to briefly occasionally pull back and convey a real sense of regret and sorrow with her husband, not just for her actions leading to the film’s ending, but for mistakes made as a mother and life partner. I doubt she’ll be remembered during awards season, but it truly is a breathtaking performance.

The first half of the film maintains a very specific tone of foreboding and dread. And then things happen and that is where I get conflicted.

Since comparisons have already been made to Robert Eggers’ The VVitch, not just by folks here, but by film critics and A24, itself, I’ll state that I’ve never felt that that particular film belonged in the horror genre, although it does veer into that territory in the last few minutes in the same beautiful, organic way that Jonathan Demme’s Something Wild or Roman Polanski’s Bitter Moon do. And, personally, I find the way those final minutes of The VVitch challenge the traditional portrayal of morality and the concepts of good and evil in cinema absolutely exhilarating, and a well-earned celebration of someone choosing life and happiness over death and misery. It is, at its core, a Mike Leigh film, examining how family dysfunction damages a child, and yet, hints at the possibility of an healthy emotional future if that child is somehow able to excise those toxic parts from his or her life. I think it’s an incredible achievement, and I love it.

Hereditary is a horror film. It, too, has aspirations beyond genre pulp, and the first half is very much like an examination of family dysfunction, albeit more from a punishing Lars Von Trier perspective (not a criticism – I love many a LVT film) than Leigh’s a humanistic one. At least to me. But when it does become something else, it’s hard to not be disappointed that the thing it becomes was just as successfully done through the same genre tropes in the first Conjuring film, or Paranormal Activity 3.

And yet part of me also really liked that it decided to embrace those tropes and just become a regular horror movie. Aster seems to have a genuine love for those elements, and as a lifelong horror movie fan, I do appreciate that. But still. They’ve been done a thousand times before, and they are, by far, the least interesting things in the film, leaving everything original it was attempting to do in its first half behind.

Worse still, it’s really not very frightening, although an early shot of Collette’s character entering her mother’s room post funeral and catching a glimpse of something in the shadows was beautifully effective. I kind-of wanted more of that The Innocents/Peter Quint manifestation type of scare. So. I don’t know.

Logically, a lot of the film’s plot is makes no sense, especially in the second half, but if you can chalk all that up to genre stuff that has to happen in these kind of movies and just go with it if you want to.

But Hereditary definitely does not have the same tone as Rosemary’s Baby (a film I find just as beguiling as the first time I saw it), just some similar plot machinations. The balancing act of Polanski’s masterpiece – weaving flawed, three dimensional characters into an absolutely believable plot about geriatric witches ending the world, all while simultaneously remaining an eerie mystery and out-and-out comedy – makes it, in my, y’know, humble opinion, the greatest, most well-constructed film ever made. But that’s me, and perhaps it’s unfair to make that comparison, considering the pedigree of Polanski’s film and Ira Levin’s source novel.

I absolutely agree with mfunk that the casting of Milly Shapiro was exploitative and manipulative on Aster’s part. She was cast, not for her acting abilities, which are perfectly fine for what little she was really asked to do, but her odd physical features, striking similar visual chord to the killer dwarf in Don’t Look Now. And to me, that breeds a real sense of condescension in her casting, as if Aster is daring me to say out loud, “That poor girl was so weird looking”, and then feel guilty for saying it out loud.

I did appreciate the final seconds of the film, which took on a much more comedic tone than the rest of it (especially with the Judy Collins song), but it is at odds with the everything that came before.

So, in the end, no conclusions one way or another, just conflicted thoughts I’m still trying to process.

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Re: Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

#42 Post by McCrutchy » Mon Jul 16, 2018 10:21 am

UHD Blu-ray coming via Lionsgate on September 4th, 2018, according to Barnes and Noble.

I know the listings are blank right now, but the three editions can be viewed here at Barnes and Noble, and both the Blu-ray and DVD are already live on Amazon, as well.

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Re: Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

#43 Post by ianthemovie » Wed Aug 08, 2018 12:13 pm

Does anyone know the Stephen King story "Gramma" from Skeleton Crew? Upon rereading it I was astonished to discover that it's basically the same plot concept as Hereditary, though King accomplishes his effect much more elegantly and economically, and to my mind the logic of the story is much cleaner than that of the film.

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Re: Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

#44 Post by JamesF » Wed Aug 08, 2018 12:57 pm

Good shout! "Gramma" has also been adapted to the screen a couple of times, the first time as a memorably creepy Twilight Zone revival episode adapted by Harlan Ellison, and then more loosely as a DTV feature called Mercy by Blumhouse.

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Big Ben
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Re: Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

#45 Post by Big Ben » Wed Aug 08, 2018 1:00 pm

Yes. That story exists in two filmed adaptations. It was turned into an episode of the newer Twilight Zone episodes by Harlan Ellison. It was later adapted to the big screen in 2014 as a film called Mercy. I haven't seen the Twilight Zone episode by I watched the film version because someone I know is a Walking Dead fanatic and i got roped into it. Spoiler! The McG produced film is not very good. The most famous film to come out of that short story collection is The Mist and that's a much better film.

And while the story shares similarities I'm more inclined to say that it's just a coincidence because those plot points have been in fiction for a very long time.

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Re: Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

#46 Post by jwd5275 » Wed Aug 08, 2018 1:08 pm

God, that Twilight Zone episode scared the crap out of me when I was a kid...

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Lost Highway
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Re: Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

#47 Post by Lost Highway » Wed Aug 08, 2018 3:26 pm

ianthemovie wrote:
Wed Aug 08, 2018 12:13 pm
Does anyone know the Stephen King story "Gramma" from Skeleton Crew? Upon rereading it I was astonished to discover that it's basically the same plot concept as Hereditary, though King accomplishes his effect much more elegantly and economically, and to my mind the logic of the story is much cleaner than that of the film.
The denouement of Hereditary reveals something similar to what the entire Stephen King story is about. However, for most of its running time Hereditary is concerned with a sinister family drama which I found far more compelling than what we discover in the last five minutes of the movie. What you found cleaner or more economical in the Stephen King story, merely serves as the MacGuffin in Hereditary.

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Big Ben
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Re: Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

#48 Post by Big Ben » Wed Aug 08, 2018 3:48 pm

Lost Highway wrote:
Wed Aug 08, 2018 3:26 pm
ianthemovie wrote:
Wed Aug 08, 2018 12:13 pm
Does anyone know the Stephen King story "Gramma" from Skeleton Crew? Upon rereading it I was astonished to discover that it's basically the same plot concept as Hereditary, though King accomplishes his effect much more elegantly and economically, and to my mind the logic of the story is much cleaner than that of the film.
The denouement of Hereditary reveals something similar to what the entire Stephen King story is about. However, for most of its running time Hereditary is concerned with a sinister family drama which I found far more compelling than what we discover in the last five minutes of the movie. What you found cleaner or more economical in the Stephen King story, merely serves as the MacGuffin in Hereditary.
That's the point I've been trying to make about the film. The supernatural stuff is secondary to the breakdown of the family. Aster could have simply made a rather raw family drama with some reworking. Hereditary is only a horror film because of some very topical story additions.

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Re: Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

#49 Post by ianthemovie » Wed Aug 08, 2018 4:04 pm

Lost Highway wrote:
Wed Aug 08, 2018 3:26 pm
The denouement of Hereditary reveals something similar to what the entire Stephen King story is about. However, for most of its running time Hereditary is concerned with a sinister family drama which I found far more compelling than what we discover in the last five minutes of the movie. What you found cleaner or more economical in the Stephen King story, merely serves as the MacGuffin in Hereditary.
Yes, that's a useful distinction. Personally I found the sinister-family-drama elements of Hereditary to be quite weak and ineffective, or at the very least irrelevant/clumsily appended to the supernatural elements, so that may be why I prefer something like "Gramma." I realize I'm in the minority here...
Big Ben wrote:
Wed Aug 08, 2018 1:00 pm
While the story shares similarities I'm more inclined to say that it's just a coincidence because those plot points have been in fiction for a very long time.

I agree that it's probably a coincidence, and I'm not saying Aster ripped off King. There are some striking similarities, though, such as the
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invocation of Satanic language, which I found quite creepy in both works, as well as the fact that the witchcraft/possession skips a generation and passes from grandmother to grandchild. I know Collette's performance has been getting raves but I much prefer King's approach, in which the figure of the mother is more or less jettisoned.

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Mr Sausage
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Re: Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

#50 Post by Mr Sausage » Wed Aug 08, 2018 7:23 pm

Big Ben wrote:
Wed Aug 08, 2018 3:48 pm
Lost Highway wrote:
Wed Aug 08, 2018 3:26 pm
ianthemovie wrote:
Wed Aug 08, 2018 12:13 pm
Does anyone know the Stephen King story "Gramma" from Skeleton Crew? Upon rereading it I was astonished to discover that it's basically the same plot concept as Hereditary, though King accomplishes his effect much more elegantly and economically, and to my mind the logic of the story is much cleaner than that of the film.
The denouement of Hereditary reveals something similar to what the entire Stephen King story is about. However, for most of its running time Hereditary is concerned with a sinister family drama which I found far more compelling than what we discover in the last five minutes of the movie. What you found cleaner or more economical in the Stephen King story, merely serves as the MacGuffin in Hereditary.
That's the point I've been trying to make about the film. The supernatural stuff is secondary to the breakdown of the family. Aster could have simply made a rather raw family drama with some reworking. Hereditary is only a horror film because of some very topical story additions.
I mostly agree, although for me it's more pointedly using a horror story to work through the emotions of dealing with hereditary mental illness. I don't think the horror aspects are secondary, tho'. They're definitely the focal point, they're just not an end in themselves. They're used because they can adequately express the particular extremes of emotion that horror stories share with stories of mental dissolution. This is why I don't think the film is allegorical or even symbolic. I think the film is trying to contain the emotional experience of descending into mental illness and the havoc that wreaks on a family without actually telling a mental illness narrative. It's kind of like code switching: the capacity of one mode of discourse to contain the meaning of another.
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The more obvious instances are with Peter. He goes through a lot of the touchstones of descending into full blown schizophrenia. He's the right age group, there's a family history of mental illness, and he experiences a traumatic episode after which he begins to withdraw from his peers, lose time, see and hear strange and frightening things with increasing intensity until finally he breaks into full blown hysterical paranoia. The film finds analogies for this straight-forward account of mental illness and turns it into something containing the same emotions and narrative beats, but has a different overall story. A way of looking at the family dynamic: Annie's instinctive need to protect Peter as a baby from her own mother's demon-conjuring obsessions is analogous to, say, wanting to protect her children from the family affliction passed down to the men in the family (in Annie's oral history of her family I think she only relates men going crazy and killing themselves, which in the narrative of the film is them being vessels for a demon who prefers to inhabit males, but can also be a mental disorder that affects males more strongly, leaving the females with something lighter like schizoaffective disorder). That's what makes the film doubly heartbreaking; you see the dual ways Annie want's to protect him: the conscious desire to keep him swaddled away from damaging influence, and the unconscious desire to immolate him and spare him the later suffering. Neither work. There are other analogies and they enrich the film.
I understand why this movie doesn't work for a lot of people. It treads a line I don't think it always keep from overstepping. But if the narrative beats and the imagery in the latter third are familiar, overly in your face, and maybe not entirely satisfying narratively, the added emotional heft that comes from keeping the analogy in mind makes it all work for me, makes it sadder and more horrifying than it'd be if it were straightforwardly what it seems. The end is redeemed by its context, for me. I can see why it wouldn't be for others, but I don't share their feeling. This was far more frightening for me than most films tackling the same horror tropes.

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