Hereditary Review

The intent of most great horror flicks is to create an unsettling, suspenseful atmosphere for the moviegoer. It usually takes a film at least thirty minutes to effectively establish this mood, and sometimes the effort is in vain. Therefore, I consider it a true feat when a film like Hereditary sets this disturbing tone less than sixty seconds in. Somehow managing to keep the creepy ambiance going throughout the whole picture and frightening me far after I left the theater.

Attempting to summarize Hereditary does no good, as it risks bewildering prospective viewers and spoiling the many twists and turns. It’s basically about a small family gripping with the loss of their grandmother, a rather strange woman known to have dabbled in the occult. As time goes on, bizarre events begin to unfold that makes us question our ideas on fate and inheritance.

This is the kind of well-designed horror film that critics go nuts for and audiences shrug off in disgruntled confusion. Perhaps Hereditary gets a little too abstract and bizarre for mainstream audiences to latch onto. Take the ending scenes of example. The movie ends on a , even vile note that’s meant to leave you grasping for answers instead of feeling warm and satisfied.

Despite it’s limited audience, Hereditary is bone-chilling. There’s simply no other way to say it. I very highly enjoyed it’s blend of serious and realistic subject matter, complex themes of mental illness, and fusion of abstract horror elements. The camera work is done at such a leisurely pace, quietly crawling down corridors and holding on shots for uncomfortably long periods of time. Several moments left me on the edge of my seat begging for the film to just get on with it, as something terrifying sat silently in the corner of the shot.

Toni Collette deserves special praise for her chilling, disturbing performance as a mother at wits end. In multiple instances she has emotional breakdowns and blowups that sometimes will scare you and other times just leave you with a bad taste in your mouth. One moment that I found particularly crazy is when she attends a group therapy session for those grieving the loss of loved ones. Collette proceeds to dump out all her emotional baggage for the whole group to see, leaving them all in an awkward state of shock. Truly discomforting.

So, while Hereditary is a stylistic and thrilling movie, it’s a very slow build to a payoff only those with zero preconceptions and expectations will truly enjoy. It shares many similarities to films like The Witch and It Comes at Night, requiring much interpretation to have a meaningful experience. If these movies aren’t really your thing, I’d stick with A Quiet Place, and stay far far away from Hereditary.

The Verdict: A

-Zachary Flint

Hush Review

I recently watched on Netflix a slasher horror film by the title of Hush. What initially peaked my interest about Hush is its 100 percent rating on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. And after my viewing of Hush, I wasn’t disappointed.

Hush centers around a young author named Madison (Kate Siegel), who is deaf, due to a case of bacterial meningitis as a teen. As an adult she moved into an isolated house in the middle of the woods and feverishly works on her novels. Once in a while she gets a visit or text from friends or family, but for the most part remains solitary. One night a nameless man (John Gallagher Jr.) begins stalking and terrorizing Madison, making it very clear he plans on killing her before the night is over.

To give a feel for how our protagonist sees things, all sound will cut out and the film will be silent. It’s a pretty clever idea that effectively lets the viewer see what the protagonist sees (or in this case hear). Sometimes the scares come in the form of a silent jump scares, other times it’s intense anxiety because the killer is behind her but she has no idea because she cannot hear him.

I felt that the film dragged at various parts throughout the film, which is something that the horror genre struggles with. This is an extremely simple plot of one woman in a house being attacked. So naturally the director is going to have to throw in small bits of filler hear and there. If you go into the film expecting to see plenty of filler, than it probably won’t bother you much.

The mask that the killer wears is very frightening. It is a very simple design that gives off some creepy vibes. However the killer takes this mask off very early on in Hush, which has I felt was a poor choice on their part. First off, the mask was hell of a lot scarier than his face. I think they tried hiding the fact that he barely wears the mask in the trailers because they knew people would find it freakier. They were most definitely right. It would make more symbolic sense to keep the mask on, making him a faceless murderer who kills just for the satisfaction of killing.

The one positive about taking the mask off is that John Gallagher Jr, is behind it. I think he is a terrific actor that can be very expressive. That is no exception here, because he is a very ruthless and cruel killer. His character is unsettlingly nonchalant about murder and is able to manipulate others very well. Reminds me of how a real life killer might act.

There are a number of lame horror cliches in this that I groaned at. I won’t say which ones specifically because it might give some stuff away, but lets just say its very predictable. And predictability is something that can kill a horror film like Hush.

Hush ends on a strong note, it doesn’t cheap out like countless horror films have been known to do in the past. The climax is satisfying and intense, and the end leaves the viewer feeling content with what they just experienced.

To put it plain and simply, Hush was a decent flick. It’s a good slasher horror film to sit down and watch at night. The idea that our protagonist is deaf and mute adds another level to the horror entirely. The filmmakers were able to toy with this and give us some clever and creative scenes.

I would definitely have to recommend Hush to those who like this sort of thing. In an age where most horror films are tiresome and boring, films like Hush seem to be the light at the end of the tunnel. Even if the film wasn’t perfect.

The Verdict: A

-Zachary Flint

 

10 Cloverfield Lane Review

10cloverfieldlane

“Monsters come in many forms”, a well-fitting tagline for this very effective, suspenseful thriller.

10 Cloverfield Lane stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Michelle who wakes up from a bad car accident to find herself locked in a doomsday bunker owned by a disturbing man named Howard (John Goodman). He tells Michelle that there is nothing left of the outside world, as it was destroyed in an apocalyptic event. Possibly from a terrorist attack or even an alien invasion. Howard had prepared for doomsday and saved Michelle`s life by bringing her into his bunker below his farmhouse. Howard also saved a man named Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.) from the doomsday event, who experienced it firsthand.

The three now must learn to live together in the underground bunker as they try to adjust to their situation. However things may not be what they seem, as Howard begins to grow increasingly psychotic. Raising the question to if he is their savior, or just their captor.

The cast and crew try their hardest to make the audience feel as if this were a real apocalyptic event, and to their benefit it does. The set designs are as expected for those living in a doomsday bunker, fittingly simplistic. The bunker is just enough crowded and confined that, coupled with great camera work, can create a stuffy and claustrophobic environment. There is a moment in the film where Michelle must crawl through a ventilation system to fix an air filtration unit, having a high possibility of getting stuck. This was one of the most claustrophobic moments I have ever seen in a film. Building real panic and tension that made me want to look away.

The script, combined with the solid performances of Goodman, Winstead, and Gallagher Jr., makes for a very surreal experience. The relationships between the characters are strained throughout the entire film and the tension is always high. I couldn’t tell who or when the next characters was going to mentally snap, only that when they did all hell would break loose. There is a particular scene at the dinner table where Goodman`s character snaps, causing the viewer to further contemplate his sanity. The scene is very well scripted, acted, and shot and is one of the highlights of the film. You can really feel the ambiance of the bunker and the naturally awkward interactions of the characters.

My one major complaint about this film is the lacking in character development. The back stories for Michelle and Emmett felt too planned out and forced. As if the film makers set aside three minutes for them to talk about their pasts and that was it. Only to briefly bring it up farther along in the plot to try and force an emotional moment. These scenes should have felt more natural and less cookie cutter film making.

10 Cloverfield Lane works great as a suspense film. Its strongest points being that it can keep you guessing all the way to the end. Viewers will think they have figured out the plot or a characters motives, only to be pleasantly surprised that they were wrong. John Goodman`s role is particularly strong and memorable and gives breed to an all new kind of terror. I loved this film, and those who enjoy suspenseful or sci fi films will love it too.

Zachary Flint