Hereditary (2018) SPOILERS

Shot of the Graham family treehouse

Hereditary is a 2018 horror movie written and directed by Ari Aster. (Hereditary is his directorial debut.) It was produced by the independent production company A24. The movie stars Toni Collette as Annie Graham, Milly Shapiro as Charlie Graham, Alex Wolff as Peter Graham, and Gabriel Byrne as Steve Graham. After the film’s release, Hereditary was met with critical success, scoring a 89% on Rotten Tomatoes and an 87% on Metacritic.


Hereditary mainly centers around Annie Graham, who is a tiny house artist, her husband, Steve, and their children, Peter and Charlie. The film opens at the funeral of Annie’s mother, Ellen Leigh. Ellen Leigh was an elderly woman that lived a private life, even from her family. Annie tries to keep her mother at bay.  Yet, after Ellen’s death, the Graham’s world begins to spiral down as they slowly uncover the many dark truths about the evil life that Ellen Leigh lived, and the family’s inevitable doom. This “hereditary” reality is something that the family cannot escape.  

Toni Collette as Annie Graham in her studio

Opinions on the Film

In my opinion, this is one of the best horror movies of the 2010s. The movie does have many troupes of the horror genre, such as jump scares, unsettling moments, and gore. This horror movie stands out with having a very likable main cast of characters, and you find yourself more often than not rooting for Annie and her clan as they try to navigate the sinister puzzle that the family matriarch has spent her whole life setting up. However, I find the true horror and strength of Hereditary in the film’s final moments. In interweaving realism with mythology, this supernatural thriller is tragic and disturbing and, in my opinion, unforgettable.

Annie, Peter, and Steve during the seance

The True Horror of the Film

The true horror of Hereditary is in the penultimate scene in which you can see the helplessness from the last living member of the Graham family, Alex Wolff’s character, Peter. At this point in the film, this character has lost everything. He accidentally killed his sister, causing this awful chain of events to take place in the first place, he lost his father, who was the only person that he still trusted, and his mother is now possessed by Paimon. Peter is now surrounded, in his own attic, by the cult of Paimon. The character’s despair and the loss of his drive to live is truly the scariest aspect of the film. After finishing the movie, I thought about the ending for days. The last shots of Peter (now the spirit of Paimon) being crowned by the cult members in the tree house are some of the best shots in recent cinema. In addition, the music supports the storyline in powerful and emotional ways.  The song “Reborn” by Colin Stetson used towards the end still makes me think about my feelings when I originally saw the film. The oddly celebratory vibe of the final music reflects a very dark conclusion that evil has triumphed in this family. Hereditary has stayed with me–the sights, sounds, themes, and, most especially, the chilling ending.

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