Hereditary review

Hereditary, Director Ari Aster’s bold directorial debut, has achieved global word of mouth. Following its midnight screening at Sundance word quickly spread about the scale of real horror on offer here; a genre triumph that echoed The Exorcist. Buzz about a film doesn’t always serve it well though, particularly when it sets expectations sky high. So while Hereditary doesn’t quite serve up a complete slice of sinister cinematic horror, it does triumph as an indie film that has garnered the uninterrupted attention of mainstream audiences.

The narrative is open to interpretation but its central themes are that of grief, family torment and an underlying unease that centres around distrust. The real horror moments come in seeing Collette’s Annie break down following a tragic accident, her son’s fear of being guilty and unloved, and of not having control of that which is determined to unfold.

Director Aster takes a slow-burn approach, allowing events to unfold at a frustratingly slow pace. Had the flick been sold as a tense thriller rather than a psychological horror, the jump scares, clever camera tricks and  haunting set pieces would deliver a fuller effect. But these moments are fleeting, and they don’t achieve the impact they would were they unexpected, and you’re ultimately left wanting events to shuffle on faster.

Toni Collette and Gabriel Byrne support newcomers Alex Wolff and Milly Shapiro, but Byrne isn’t given nearly enough screen time. Collette is, as always, a gem. Channeling raw emotion as a grieving mother, her role as Annie is demanding – and perhaps the most terrifying element of the whole feature – but she never falters.

The final twenty minutes delivers a series of eye-covering moments which ultimately descends into a strange and slightly disappointing finale. Genre cliches continually threaten to creep in, but they never overwhelm the power of the bleak aesthetic or the goosebump-inducing score – this isn’t any old horror fare, Aster leans more towards art house tropes and directs with confidence.

A lot of comparisons have been drawn with The Babadook, another horror centred around grief but one that masters the slow-building dread effect with more force. Despite the perceived flaws there’s no denying that Aster has achieved a lot with this daring debut; if only in drawing mass audiences to an indie film, thus supporting the industry. The writing is pretty spectacular too, human emotion is captured quite perfectly, and Collette leads the film into outstanding territory performance-wise.

It won’t scare you like you might want it too, but it’s certainly an impressive debut from a director who is no doubt now in high demand.

Quentin Tarantino set to retire

Rumors are flying that Tarantino, a cult director known for directing some of the best cinema of the past twelve years, is set to retire after the filming and release of his up-and-coming Western The Hateful Eight. While at a Q&A for what is said to be his last release, Tarantino made comments about his future in the film industry; “I do think directing is a young man’s game, and I like the idea of an umbilical cord connection from my first to my last movie. I’m not trying to ridicule anyone who thinks differently, but I want to go out while I’m still hard.”. While many may find themselves forlorn at the thought of no more Tarantino, the directors idea of going out gracefully is certainly admirable.

quentin tarantino

quentin tarantino

Starting his career off with Reservoir Dogs (1992), Tarantino’s career fell into place after working in a video-rental store. During this time he worked on scripts based around narratives he believed an audience would be interested in, and first became a screenwriter, (co) penning Past Midnight (1991) and later (after his feature debut) True Romance (1993). Writing, directing and starring in ‘Dogs cemented Tarantino’s directorial style as one which is both favored by audiences and beautifully (or more appropriately, violently) unique. Two years later came Pulp Fiction, a firm favorite for many Tarantino fans, and the film that gave the director world-wide acclaim, as well as art-house success. Following ‘Fiction Tarantino was involved in sixteen more features, as either a writer, producer, director or actor (titles include his collaboration with friend Rodriguez for vamp thriller From Dusk Till Dawn and personal favorite Jackie Brown).

While his career took a slight U-turn after the popularity of the blood bath franchise Kill Bill (2003 and 2004 respectively), Tarantino reclaimed his title as king of mainstream indie cinema with his spin on World War 2 seen in Inglorious Basterds, and his slavery-themed Western Django Unchained. Known for his use of music, his violent aesthetic and the use of narratives that are often controversially violent, Tarantino has given us a selection of films that range in narrative, location, and time. While I’m of the opinion that Kill Bill is over-hyped, and Jackie Brown under-appreciated, the auteur has catered to audiences whims, and produced cinema that both challenges and entertains. Disastrously off the mark, or right on the money, you never get something in-between with this classic director.

The Hateful Eight will be released next year, and will star long-time collaborator Samuel L. Jackson in a story that doesn’t sound too far removed from that of Django. Let me know what is your favorite effort from Tarantino, and your opinions on his sudden retirement plans in the comments box below.