Hereditary and "art horror" films

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Hereditary and "art horror" films

Postby KleinerKiller » Wed Jun 13, 2018 8:53 am

Hereditary has me worried that I'm actually a tremendous idiot.

This film has been hyped up like no other, even compared to It Follows, The VVVVVVVVVVVitch, etc. It's The Exorcist for the modern day, a non-stop shocker of emotional terrorism, a movie so upsetting that you will walk out feeling like both you and the world have been fundamentally changed. It's a chilling masterpiece that will fuck up even the most seasoned horror fans, and if you don't curl up in your seat wanting to die by the halfway mark, you might be a sociopath. And yes, these are all pretty much direct quotes from various reviews and discussions I've seen about the film. I would link each if I, you know, cared.

The internet breeds hyperbole and exaggeration, of course. There are certain things that will give film critics and film students multiple screaming orgasms if they're in a movie, and I don't often tend to enjoy those things. But like It Follows, The VVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVitch, It Comes At Night, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Mother!, and so on before it (with the exception of The Babadook, which I quite like), Hereditary left me so unimpressed that I'm not even going to bother reviewing it. It's same-old, same-old: gorgeous cinematography and a stellar lead performance papering over things you've seen thousands of times before, with the story told mostly through a few clunky exposition dumps broken up by a few taboo shockers to jolt the sensitive.

Spoiler: show
It's functionally the same story as The VVitch, sans the cool period aesthetic and stitching in some plot points from Paranormal Activity and Rosemary's Baby.

A family who is already miserable loses their youngest child in a gruesome accident (yeah, the horrifically creepy little girl the trailers promoted is wasted in the first third of the movie) directly due to the older sibling's actions, only to be subsequently tormented by paranormal goings-on. It's revealed that the dead grandmother was the head of a pagan / Satanist / Hollywood demon cult and she imprinted a powerful demon onto a member of her family, and eventually the mother gets possessed and dies after chasing around her son for a while. The son then wanders into a room where the cult of fully nude old people are waiting, gets assimilated as the new host body of the summoned demon, and the ending of The VVitch and Rosemary's Baby happens as they all hail the demon. There's also a Psycho-esque expository speech that lays out all of the "ambiguity" in case you hadn't understood a very clear and obvious story. I've seen it all before. You've seen it all before.

It really seems like killing a child horribly in these movies is an instant key to massive critical acclaim, given how much of the spoiler talk is centered around that (admittedly gut-wrenching and well executed) death twist. But that death and the aftermath, a tense emotional blowout over dinner, and some neat-ish scares toward the end aside, as well as Toni Collette's spellbinding acting and some clever cinematography, there's nothing to warrant all of the hype. It's a demonic possession movie like any other.

And the fact that I don't really like any of these alleged horrifying masterpieces (despite going into each one after The VVitch knowing that they won't be the advertised non-stop scare fests) makes me genuinely worried that I'm just too stupid to get it. The fact that I only see some shiny coats of paint atop tired tropes and thinly stretched premises, rather than nightmare-inducing masterpieces the cinema was created to house, as well as the fact that I'm more scared and entertained by movies like IT or A Quiet Place, gives me the impression that I might be one of the fabled masses of sheep who are too braindead to get the true artistic experience. Art may be subjective, but this much universal acclaim has to point to something, right?

So, like, did you see Hereditary and like it? And moreso, what do you think of this style of horror movie? Is it everything you've ever wanted for the horror genre, or do you line up more with my opinions, or somewhere in between?
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