The Films of Ari Aster
Hereditary (June 4/18)
An absolutely astonishing debut, Hereditary follows the Graham family (Toni Collette's Annie, Gabriel Byrne's Steve, Alex Wolff's Peter, and Milly Shapiro's Charlie) as they're forced to confront a series of deeply disturbing secrets in the wake of a relative's death. First-time filmmaker Ari Aster does a superb job of immediately drawing the viewer into the deliberately-paced (and slightly overlong, admittedly) proceedings, as Hereditary kicks off with a striking opening shot that immediately establishes a mood of progressive unease - with the creepy atmosphere heightened by a whole host of stirring attributes (including gloomy, Fincheresque visuals and haunted-house-like sound design). It's clear, too, that the picture benefits substantially from its quartet of well-developed and thoroughly intriguing central characters, as Aster does a superb job of transforming these people into some of the most distinctive characters in a genre film one can easily recall - with, especially, Shapiro's distinctly disturbing work as the oddball Charlie certainly standing as an obvious highlight. (This isn't to take anything away from the other actors, to be sure, with Wolff delivering a performance unlike anything he's done before.) The slow, steady build is augmented with a series of surprising and downright jaw-dropping sequences that consistently raise the stakes, and there's little doubt that it remains completely impossible to guess where the narrative is going at any given moment (ie the movie ultimately arrives at a conclusion that's miles away from what one might've initially anticipated). The balls-to-the-wall final stretch cements Hereditary's place as one of the most original and flat-out electrifying horror flicks to come around in ages, with the movie's astounding success certainly boding well for Aster's future endeavors behind the camera.