Why Hereditary Actually IS The Scariest Movie Of 2018.

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 8.442% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

In Call of Cthulhu, the infamously terrifying roleplaying game, the players are usually giggling nonstop.  It’s not that they’re not scared – they are.  But they are fully aware that this kindly old man is probably a cultist bent on their evisceration and this locked door to the abandoned basement should never be opened – but the characters they are playing do not know that.

So they giggle wildly as they tiptoe towards their inevitable destruction.  It’s whistling past the graveyard, really.  They’re locked in to a grim conclusion, and laugh manically because they know everything they do is doomed, that every paranoia they have is utterly justified, and yet they go through the motions because the true horror of Call of Cthulhu that sane people acting rationally will be ground to bits.

I thought I would never hear that laughter outside of a horror roleplaying game.

But last night, during the showing of Hereditary, the theater was awash in constant, unstoppable giggling as everyone realized that the family in this film was smart, and flawed, and acting on every bit of knowledge they had available to them, and these poor fuckers were still doomed, doomed, doomed.

The problem in describing Hereditary is that “scary” is the only positive word we can associate with a horror movie.  The true description of Hereditary is “dread full,” because there’s not much in Hereditary that’s jumping out at you.  It traffics in dread, that soaking sensation that something bad is going to happen and you don’t quite know what but when it arrives it’s going to be worse than what you thought it would be, and goddamn if it isn’t.

Because Hereditary is actually a slow drama, one that focuses on what happens when a family unravels due to the weight of death.   There are long, aching moments where you wish for zombies, because honestly a good solid monster scare would be preferable to watching everyone quietly blame each other.  And unlike some horror movies, which have long slow shots only so you can scan the background for creepy stuff in the background, Hereditary has long slow shots where it will not let you look away from someone’s pain, where they’re trapped in grief that they will never escape because death is permanent, and so when the creepy stuff comes in it is genuine and earned.

I thought I knew where Hereditary was going, but those plans flew out the window early on, and from then on I was with the audience.  Giggling.  Braced for impact.  And then the impacts came, and kept coming, and kept coming, and maybe the ending went on a bit too long but when I thought about it – and I did think about the ending, I couldn’t stop thinking about it – it all fit together.

Hereditary isn’t perfect.  But it does one thing perfectly – dread.  That sick anticipation of knowing that bad things are about to happen, and maybe they won’t, or maybe they’ll be even worse.

They’ll be worse.

That’s Hereditary.

1 Comment

  1. Anonymous Alex
    Jun 13, 2018

    That’s . . . interesting. I guess I can sort of appreciate the technical skill of doing that, from a distance, but I can’t possibly imagine wanting to experience more dread than I get from real life.

    But then again, I don’t care for horror movies in general, either.


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