So let me get this started.
I’m a huge horror fan.
I read it, write it, and watch it.
I’m the guy that refuses to watch trailers of upcoming films so I can get an untainted idea of a film while on the escalators coming from the tube or when a double-decker bus crawls past in traffic. 5 Stars – Truly terrifying, 4 Stars – The horror of the year. 5 Stars – This generation’s ‘The exorcist’. High praise indeed. You see, for me, ‘The Exorcist’ is the pinnacle of horror. Suspenseful when necessary, Gore when needed, not solely relying on jump scares throughout. So when I saw those words written and published on a bill board, I knew I had to go and seek out this movie.
I will just start by saying that if I ever hear anyone speak about this film in the same breath as The Exorcist I will engage my Buzz Lightyear karate chop action and aim for the throat. I’m being serious.
There wasn’t a huge amount to go on. A typical, nuclear family, Mom, dad, 2.4 children. Dad’s a career man, while mum is a successful miniature model artist preparing for an exhibition. When the family is – I won’t say rocked, more like pebble-dashed by the death of Annie’s (Toni Collette) mother, strange things start happening. The departed was bed bound after a long illness and had a long and troubled relationship with her daughter. She did however share a special bond with her granddaughter, Charlie. At 13 years of age, she’s a grubby, quiet recluse. The father and son of this family do very much exist on the fringe of family life and the relationships are strained and often at breaking point.
With the passing of the Matriarch, Annie seeks comfort in a loss and grief group and is introduced to the dark art of contacting the dead by one of her fellow grievers and declares herself a medium after very little convincing. As with any second rate Ouija/séance based horror, things start to occur soon after the first contacts are made. It then becomes a race against time to find a way to sever the connection and save her family. As Annie seeks to protect her family from the maniacal events that begin to unfold, the trail of deceit and lies that go as far back as the birth of her eldest son. All isn’t as it seems, but you soon realise it never was.
The characters are all a little two dimensional for me, even with Toni Collette being the stand out name and by far the superior actor. If I never see Alex Wolff on screen again I most definitely will not be upset. His portrayal of the brooding and resentful teen is cringe worthy. There is always something so… chilling about seeing a MAN with a 5 o’clock shadow saying ‘mommy’ with a straight face. That being said, the problems here lay within the casting and script, which is for the most part bland and uninspiring and at best predictable. Unfortunately, a lot of the time it seems lines were just out right crow-barred in as an afterthought, so some little detail later makes sense, in fact there are entire scenes like that which when you have a movie with a 127 minute running time, you wish a better director and editor combo may have applied some common sense and condensed a lot of the movie.
The gore employed is passable, isn’t over the top and but leaves little to the imagination. It seems Horrors post-1980’s refuse to work on the basis that less is more. The jump scares are limited in the early scenes and become more and more frequent as ‘Hereditary’ progresses, but again 99% of the time they are predictable and several times I found myself laughing out loud at them.
I don’t think I’ve been as let down in life since I followed the smell of fresh donuts out of the office and walked into a man named Ahmed vaping in his cloud of lies.
This film is nothing like The Exorcist. It sits firmly in the bargain bin at the petrol station next to Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones.
REVIEW BY MICHAEL PRIME
The SHALLOW CREEK Short Story Competition
Mallum Colt, proprietor of Colt’s Curiosity Shop, invites authors to explore the sinister shadows and crooked streets of his once splendid town of Shallow Creek.
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