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Review: Hereditary is 2018’s scariests film so far and Toni Collette’s performance is a career best

PUBLISHED: 10:50 20 August 2018 | UPDATED: 10:50 20 August 2018

Toni Collette in Hereditary

Toni Collette in Hereditary

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Toni Collette and Gabriel Byrne star in this debut feature from American director Ari Aster, which tells the tale of a grieving family, who after the death of their matriarch, begin to uncover dark secrets and are haunted by disturbing events.

Toni Collette has always been good at playing manic characters, but here she delivers a truly great performance as Annie. A highly strung and increasingly unpredictable mother of two, desperately trying to keep her family safe after her mother’s death uncovers sinister family secrets.

Gabriel Byrne is her stoic husband Steve who brings a calming influence to proceedings, while young actress Milly Shapiro, in her very first film role, is daughter Charlie and the face of the film’s poster.

Her strikingly unconventional appearance together with an expertly delivered vocal tick adds to the unsettling feel of the film.

Teenage son Peter is played by rising star Alex Wolff and he further enhances his reputation with a captivating performance in a role which becomes more and more prominent as the film progresses and things begin to unravel.

Aster’s excellent script builds an uneasy sense of dread throughout the film’s tension-filled first half before diving head first into the occult in the later stages.

While it does borrow some themes from other horror classics, it is never predictable and features some uniquely shocking twists and jaw dropping moments of its own.

The thoroughly disturbing final act will no doubt prove divisive and may leave some scatching their heads, however it is a deeply effecting ending that will live long in the memory and leave viewers desperate to discuss their theories with others.

Even for non horror fans, the film is worth watching for Toni Collette’s brilliant, career-best performance alone, but as writer/director debuts go, this is about as impressive as it gets.

Aster builds a tense family drama full of ominous foreboding which then boldly morphs into a nightmarish and legitimately frightening horror film.

Hereditary is a thoroughly accomplished debut and 2018’s scariest film so far.

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