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Hereditary Will Completely Fuck Up Even The Most Seasoned Horror-Movie Watcher

An image of either Toni Collette in Hereditary, or me watching Toni Collette in Hereditary.
Image: A24

My favorite genre of fiction, in books and stories and movies and probably even television shows, is horror. I love horror. I watch horror movies all the time. I stay up late after my wife goes to bed so that I can watch more horror movies, even though it means that I sleep terribly. My worry with Hereditary was that it’d be a punishment reel, a clumsy metaphor, or a vaguely-horror-ish but mostly grueling and tense tale of family trauma. That was not the case. It is horror. Whatever else it might also be, it is for sure a horror movie, and it’s the most terrifying horror movie I’ve ever watched.

I saw it Tuesday in an empty theater, and my brain is now a rattled mess. My hands were shaking on the walk to the car after it was over, and at several points during the last third of the movie I had to stop myself from sprinting out of the theater. I’ll try hard not to spoil anything, but know that this movie deploys every good horror trick in the book, with ruthless, relentless glee, all the way to the very end.

All stories come from somewhere, but a story told especially well obliterates all its origins and symbols behind the sheer thrill of exploring its plot points. If you’re telling a story around a campfire and your listeners have the bandwidth to wonder what is he really talking about right now, you are a bad storyteller. Horror movies can also be about Big Ideas, but most of the very good ones—The Shining, Rosemary’s

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