I’ll start with a confession. I don’t like horror films. Not because they frighten me, but because generally they don’t. So, my judgement on this one may be a little flawed as I haven’t got many terms of reference to compare it to.
I was persuaded to go see it by the hype that surrounded its release, the glowing critical reviews, a friend who also wanted to see it and, of course, the obligatory Cineworld Unlimited card which means it’s easier to take a risk on seeing something you might not otherwise choose to part with a ten pound note at the box office for.
Unfortunately, watching Hereditary hasn’t changed my opinion of horror films.
I found it very slow paced, almost glacial in places, waiting for something to happen. Not necessarily something frightening, just anything at all. The scares are few and far between, and when they do materialise, they didn’t have me jumping out of my seat in shock.
The only scene I found truly unsettling, without giving too much of a spoiler, concerns one of the central characters losing their head in what appears to be an unfortunate accident. But the dread it leaves you with stems from the impact of that loss on the rest of the family and has nothing to do with the threat which is supposedly driving the main plot.
My main gripe would be that this could have been a fine film on the consequence of loss and the impact of mental trauma on an otherwise stable family unit, because the performances of the cast in this regard are excellent. That’s not likely to be box office gold though, I’ll admit.
I wouldn’t describe any of the characters as likeable, but they are believable – except they never think to put a light on when hearing bumps in the night or waking from a nightmare, as any person not playing a character in a horror film would surely do.
The supernatural element didn’t work for me at all. You either fall for this stuff or you don’t, and I’m a complete sceptic when it comes to ouija boards, communing with spirits, summoning the dead and all that, so the whole thing just tumbled towards ridiculousness at the end. I was stifling a giggle at the point I should presumably have been trembling in fear.
The recent British horror, Ghost Stories, was so much better, perhaps because the mundane surroundings were more familiar or because the central character in that film is a sceptic like me, who sets out to disprove a series of psychic events rather than accept them at face value.
I won’t reveal what happens to him in the end, but suffice to say it is a far more satisfying and believable conclusion than you’ll find in this load of old nonsense.