I have a lifelong love affair with horror. However, as much as I love it, my relationship with the genre has been plagued with periods of animosity followed by dizzying spells of happiness, and ultimately crushing disappointment.
I still remember my first brush with horror. The first two horror films I ever saw were Anaconda (1997) and Scary Movie 3 (2003), after both of which I had chronic nightmares. I was exhilarated. I have since been informed these films are in fact classified as comedy.
But that’s not the point. The point is, I was hooked.
As an adult, however, I simply don’t scare as easily. A jump scare may tickle me and briefly make me feel optimistic, but I’m mostly immune to scares. I’ve felt like I exist in Ezra Pound’s The Bath-Tub– having to tell horror through water devoid of warmth and full of wrinkled skin, it’s not you, it’s me.
But I was wrong. It wasn’t me – it was them.
I’m not into hysteria when it comes to the quality of pop culture, art, and so on. I simply don’t believe that artistic expression is as watered down as people seem to think it is. I have faith in the creativity of human beings. I roll my eyes at “back in my day” sentiments, knowing full well that this is simply nostalgia at play. Have you ever tried to watch something you genuinely enjoyed as a child again? Usually, what you are faced with is a bland predictable narrative designed to sell you toys, and a second hand embarrassment for your younger self.
When it comes to horror, however, I’ve been put through the ringer enough times over these past few years. A lover burned, I’m no longer open to just any promise of fright that walks through my door. I look down on new releases time and time again, uttering with complete malice, “I know your type.”
But not you, Hereditary. True, I was sceptical, but I was wrong. My standards aren’t too high. I can expect actual scares AND a compelling narrative.
Every piece of Hereditary feels purposeful and curated. The soundtrack works perfectly with the visuals. The film is a tour de force. From the opening scene I was pulled into the narrative world, where my lack of knowledge was perfectly balanced with the amount of information they gave away. Where characters felt like real people, experiencing real horror. The film’s depiction and handling of my favourite literary term – the transgenerational phantom – was satisfying, instead of feeling tacked on and cheap. The film had heart – the characters were all of us, dealing with loss, familial conflict, and demonic possession. I for one can relate.
Hereditary, I believe in horror again because of you. Even now, several weeks after seeing the film, it’s on my mind. I’m still reading about it. I’m still talking about it. I’m in love.
Do yourself a favour: don’t bother with people who don’t text you back, get enough sleep for yourself, and watch this damn film.