Creepy frights provide slow-building tension

SPOOKY: Toni Collette confronts a miniature figurine of her dying mother in her attic studio.


  • Horror; Cert R16, contains horror and content that may disturb; 2hrs 6mins
  • Starring: Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, Ann Dowd, Zachary Arthur, Mallory Bechtel and Brock McKinney
  • Director: Ari Aster

A STRONG start and lots of slow-building suspense led me to hope that Hereditary was going to have a major payoff.

Despite some good jump frights and some seriously loony characters, however, the film eventually devolves into sudden bursts of gory violence that don’t really fulfil the deeply psychological promise of the early scenes.

This film does benefit from a stellar cast and intriguing premise though.
Toni Collette stars as Annie Graham, a miniaturist and mother of two with a extensive family history of mental illness. Annie is haunted by the ghost of her recently deceased mother, with whom she had a difficult relationship.

Much as I enjoy Collette’s acting, I felt the rest of the adult cast was sadly under-used.
Gabriel Byrne is barely there as husband, Steve. Meanwhile Anne Dowd – who, anyone who has been watching The Handmaid’s Tale on Lightbox will know to be the scariest old lady on screen – barely gets a look-in.

2018 Wedding Planner

Child actress Millie Shapiro, who has made a name for herself on Broadway as the lead in Matilda and Sally in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, is captivatingly creepy as 13-year-old Charlie, an odd child, to say the least. This is a young actress I would hope to see more of in future.

Charlie’s more typical teenage brother, Peter, is a role that is carried well by Alex Wolff (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle).

This film certainly succeeds in being thoroughly spooky, though I would recommend it only to those who also enjoy plenty of gore.