Rolling Stone called ‘Hereditary’ ‘the scariest movie of 2018’. A lot has been written about the ending of the film. I still couldn’t believe how I have missed such a bone-chilling horror movie. Better late than never, I finally got the time to watch Ari Aster’s directorial debut ‘Hereditary,’ and it blows my mind away.
Kudos to the director Ari Aster for nailing her debut directorial film. The film has made all the critics and audience goes crazy for its brilliance in filmmaking and layered ending.
The horrific story of a family turned out to be so disturbing that I have never imagined.
I am sure those who love horror movies for them it is one of the best films ever made. There are some films that, after watching you keep thinking about their characters, details, and the ending.
A few days ago, I had re-watched Stanley Kubrick’s classic film ‘The Shining’ to understand the details that I have missed the first time.
Though ‘Hereditary’ isn’t a classic film it has set its standard as one of the best and intense horror films of the decade.
‘Hereditary’ follows a disturbing and unsettling story of the Graham family, Annie’s mother Ellen is dead, and the family is getting ready to attend the funeral. The film opens with the family dealing with grief, pain, and fear.
The death of Ellen has to do everything with the family’s tragic ending. Annie Graham (Toni Collette) and husband Steve (Gabriel Byrne) have a son Peter (Alex Wolff) and daughter Charlie (Milly Shapiro).
It is quite evident that Annie isn’t sad at the demise of her mother; rather, she is relieved.
We see Annie joining a support group where she talks about the mysterious death of her family. Her mother’s recent death, her father, starved himself to death, her schizophrenic brother who hanged himself to death.
Death is evident in her family history. She has a burden of mixed emotions that she is carrying for a long time.
The particular scene of Annie attending the support group has given the audience a better understanding of her mental state and the baggage of grief she is carrying over her shoulder.
She is an artist, and she makes miniature scene galleries with tiny figures of her family members that re-enact real-life events.
From the beginning of the film, we get a hint that Annie has kept her family, especially her son Peter away from Ellen, and Charlie was closer to Ellen.
Charlie seems a bit off as compared to other children. She draws the weird character, and she cuts off the head of birds. She doesn’t act or react like a normal kid.
I find Charlie’s death the most horrific scene in the film. It was shocking, and it looked like her death was meant to be. It is from her death the series of torture and unnatural things started to happen with Peter and the family.
The film carries the theme of motherhood until the ending. It starts with the death of Annie’s mother, Annie’s conflict with her son, and everything she has done to keep her family safe and protected from the clutches of Ellen.
Her emotional and mental condition after losing her daughter Charlie and she knew that she is about to lose her son Peter too. She is trying hard to stop the cult, but she failed miserably in saving her family.
The film is more or less about a mother’s psychology, family’s loss, and her endless pain that feels like a burden. Ari Aster has meticulously used ‘family’ as a weapon that is vulnerable and added the element of horror in layered scenes.
There is no jump scare or supernatural spirit or exorcism in the film. It tells a story about a crumbling family that is haunted by mental illness, grief, and followed by brutal accidents.
Movie Ending Explained
Before reaching the ending of the film, there are a lot of things to talk about. It is understandable that Ellen, the grandmother, was involved in some cult practices. She was trying to create a vessel for the demon Paimon to enter the world.
Paimon is a demonic force and one of Lucifer’s most obedient devotees.
The cult’s mission is to provide Paimon, a male host, that’s why Annie deliberately kept Peter away from Ellen and gave her Charlie to raise.
But a part of Paimon was already there in the body of Charlie. It is only Charlie who could see the light, her strange tongue click, and her weird behavior proves that.
After the untimely and violent death of Charlie, where her head got decapitated by hitting a pole, the demonic spirit of Paimon is waiting for Peter to be his host.
It is Annie, who is the reason for the tragic end of her family. Grief-stricken Annie met Joan, whom she considered her friend in need, but Joan was only a tool who manipulated Annie to perform the séance, hoping to meet the spirit of Charlie.
When the family is in a state of despair, broken and losing hope, the demonic force Paimon started to weaken and to control them.
It started controlling Annie and possessed her completely after Steve was burnt alive in from of her eyes.
I find Peter, the most unfortunate character in the film. He has a very distant relationship with his mother, and with the horrific accident of Charlie, his self-blame magnifies upon him.
He doesn’t even know what’s coming for him. He feels alone, scared all the time, and feels haunted wherever he goes.
Peter started hearing Charlie’s tongue clicks; even at his class, he feels like haunted and got tortured mercilessly by the Paimon, where he hurt his nose badly.
Meanwhile, Annie understood that her attempt to séance had put her family in danger.
She went to seek help from Joan, but she finally understood that she is being used, and Joan was only a follower of her mother’s cult ritual practice.
Steve, on the other hand, trying hard to keep his family together. He neither understands nor believes in Annie’s theory that her mother’s secret cult is making Peter their target.
She requested Steve to burn Charlie’s sketchbook as she believes that by doing so, it will stop.
Steve was convinced that mental illness has taken over Annie’s mind. But still, he stood by her side like a rock. Annie’s desperation to save Peter’s life turned into another horrific death of her family.
As she throws Charlie’s sketchbook in the fire, it burns Steve alive.
As Peter woke up from his deep sleep and came down in the hall, he found his father’s burned body and naked cult bodies begin to appear.
Annie, who is now fully possessed by the demonic forces of Paimon, chases Peter, and he climbed to the attic. Possessed Annie banging the attic with her head abnormally in a spider-man form looked funny yet scary too.
But soon as the banging sound stopped, Peter watches her mother stabbing through her neck multiple times until her head drops down.
Once again, the naked cult bodies appeared in front of him, and he jumped out of the window.
Is he dead?
I think he is, but his body is finally now become the host for the Paimon as a wasp of light entered into his body.
The demon, Paimon, has now taken over Peter’s body, and we see him climbing to the treehouse. As he climbs up, all the naked cult headless bodies have bowed to him, and he is the newly crowned king of Hell.
So now, as Paimon has inhabitant into a young male body, it is in full power.
There are quite a few symbolism and imagery used in the film. The miniature dollhouse, which is a creation of Annie, actually tells her traumatic childhood and disturbed mental state.
Her spending time with the lifeless tiny figures signifies her lifeless and disoriented family.
The scene where Charlie cuts a bird’s head denotes that she isn’t normal; instead gives the audience a hint that a demon might possess her.
Annie’s revelation to Peter that she never wanted to have him indicates the answer that we get in the ending. The history of death in Annie’s family represents the unstable mental health that she hid inside her and carried like a burden.
Charlie’s death wasn’t natural, Paimon wanted it to happen so that it can inhabit into the body of a young male, Peter and unleash its power.
Decapitation recurs a strong image in the film. The headless corpses, Charlie’s decapitation as well as Annie’s magnifies the theme of death and inheritance.
The movie has used horrifying images to incur horror and fear. 90% of the frames are shot indoor, focusing on Graham’s family.
I need to watch more movies like this.