Tomorrow evening I’m heading to the cinema to watch Midsommar, the latest horror film from writer/director, Ari Aster. The film looks as insane as Aster’s first picture, Hereditary – a movie that last year I described as “unnerving”, “unsettling” and “weird”.
These were all compliments by the way. I liked Hereditary when I watched it, although when discussing my initial thoughts about the movie I felt that it was a film that wouldn’t be for everybody. I found it to be an uncomfortable experience and a slow burner – something that some would struggle with.
One year on, and ahead of my Midsommar screening tomorrow, I have decided to revisit Hereditary. The two movie’s aren’t directly connected, but almost a year has passed since I first watched Hereditary and I feel like now is a good time for a second viewing before I delve into Aster’s next picture.
Hereditary is currently available to stream on Amazon Prime (in the UK), so I’ve got the film loaded up and ready to play. A bag of popcorn is also to hand – in case I get hungry.
**AND NOW FOR A WARNING**
If you’ve not watched Hereditary, then I suggest you don’t read any further. The following discussion includes big spoilers and they WILL ruin the experience of watching this movie.
I don’t want to ruin Hereditary for those who haven’t seen it, so please heed my warning. Plus, this discussion will make no sense to those who haven’t previously watched the movie.
OK, time for the re-watch.
0 – 20 minutes:
Within the first twenty minutes of the movie I am already picking up on information that I completely missed/didn’t see the significance of during my first viewing. Conversations that are being had between Annie and Charlie, the relationship between Annie and her deceased mother, the bizarre behaviour of Charlie – it all makes sense this time around.
It’s clear to me that this film benefits from a repeat performance.
20 – 35 minutes:
Hereditary is a very deceptive movie.
Pre-release, the trailers made it seem as if this was a horror in the vein of The Omen, where a devil child was the focus of the story. During the first 30+ minutes, the narrative also makes the audience believe this to be the case, with its focus on Charlie.
We are supposed to believe that Charlie is the main player in this picture – everything is to centre around her, but of course, this is not quite true. 34 minutes into this film and Charlie is killed – decapitated in a shocking scene.
The first time I watched this movie I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing. How could this character be killed off so quickly?! If she’s dead, what the heck is this film going to be about?!
Watching it this time around the shock of Charlie’s death is gone, but I now know the direction the movie is heading in. The horror of what has happened still remains and the build up to Charlie’s death is such an important part of this narrative.
Annie has just discovered the decapitated body of Charlie. This scene, juxtaposed with the sight of Charlie’s severed head (covered in ants), is incredibly difficult to watch.
Toni Collette’s gut-wrenching performance is also hard to sit through. Collette is such a good actress and it makes the scene all the more uncomfortable.
It’s at this point that the film veers into Rosemary’s Baby territory, with the introduction of Joan – a woman who pretends to be a ‘good Samaritan’.
1 hour 11 minutes:
The sleepwalking/ants sequence is creepy AF.
1 hour 20 minutes:
It was around this point, during my initial viewing, that I was terrified by what was unfolding, yet rather baffled at the same time. Annie had performed a seance and I just had no clue as to where this was all going.
Once again, this now all makes sense. I’m seeing this film clearly on this viewing, with none of the distractions/misdirection getting in the way.
1 hour 27 minutes:
Peter sees Charlie. Again, this is creepy AF, but bloody brilliant.
1 hour 31 minutes:
And now it becomes clear that Joan is a Satanist!
Again, during my initial viewing it was a little confusing as to why Joan was telling Peter to “get out”, but it’s because she is trying to push Peter’s spirit out of his body. She is making way for the spirit of Paimon.
1 hour 37 minutes:
The soundtrack is so unsettling. It never lets up.
1 hour 39 minutes:
Gabriel Byrne is very interesting to watch in this film. All the events are happening around him and in many ways he’s superfluous to the story.
So why include him?
To ground the film.
It’s almost as if he is in a completely different movie to everyone else and that helps to anchor the picture while all the craziness is going down. And of course, it means the movie can pull out another shocking move… by setting him on fire!
1 hour 52 minutes:
Ugly naked guy. There’s an ugly naked guy in the room! I totally forgot about this!
1 hour 55 minutes:
The finale ten minutes of Hereditary appear to descend into lunacy, with naked people, a decapitation and a change in the music, but this is merely the beginning of the end. Peter is gone, Paimon/Charlie has taken over, and all the tension that has been building since the start of the movie has been released.
The final moments of “Hail, Paimon” are truly horrifying and the film ends with a dark turn. Perhaps revisiting this film at 11pm was not a good idea.
*Looks around the room – eyes darting around the shadows*
I liked Hereditary during my first screening, but after watching it a second time I can now say that I LOVE this movie. It really does benefit from a repeat screening.
The film is layered with clues as to what the wider narrative is all about, but these are easily missed the first time around. So while I understood the story previously, this time around I have a better appreciation for what is taking place.
Anyone who has watched it once, but didn’t quite connect with it is urged to give it another go. Hereditary is now firmly on my list of top horror movies and is in my opinion, an extraordinarily scary movie.
I can’t wait to see what Aster does with Midsommar. Roll on tomorrow.