By Jeffrey Anderson,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Clammy, deeply unsettling horror movie is very scary.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Briefly ponders whether problematic traits are passed along through bloodlines, but it's ultimately much more about being a victim.
Positive Role Models
The characters are all realistically troubled -- sometimes kind, sometimes upset, sometimes selfish. All are victimized.
Violence & Scariness
Lots of blood, scary stuff (séances, ghosts, nightmares, etc.). A character beheaded by a telephone pole from a moving car. A character saws their own head off. Dead bodies shown, including headless, rotting corpses crawling with maggots. Burned body shown. Deadly car accident. Gory, ant-covered severed human head shown. Spoken stories of gruesome deaths (starvation, hanging, etc.). Characters on fire. Strangling. Characters die in less violent ways, too; a funeral shown. A 13-year-old girl snips the head off of a dead bird. Girl with a nut allergy; scenes of panic and fear. Character covered in ants. Characters have fits and bang their head repeatedly on hard surfaces. Story of attempting to burn children with paint thinner and fire. Screaming, raging. Jumping through window.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Naked ghostly apparitions; brief full-frontal nudity, both male and female.
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Sporadic uses of "f--k," "s--t," "hell," "damn," "d--k," and "retarded," plus "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation). "P---y" heard in a hip-hop song at a party.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Several scenes/mentions of teen pot smoking. Teen party with drinking. Prescription pills shown.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Hereditary is an extremely dark, creepy horror movie with ghosts, seances, death, burned bodies, severed heads, a deadly car accident, maggots, flies, ants, blood, and scenes of rage, screaming, and panic. Characters have fits and bang their head on the nearest hard surface. A teen character smokes pot on more than one occasion and attends a party with teen drinking. Weird, ghostly apparitions sometimes appear naked (full-frontal, both male and female), but only briefly. Occasional language includes "f--k," "s--t," and "hell." It's quite intense -- and very scary -- and it's all just a bit more serious and intense than the usual horror movie, making it hard to recommend for any but the most mature viewers. Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne, and Alex Wolff co-star.
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Based on 57 parent reviews
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Great movie with too much sex.
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What's the Story?
In HEREDITARY, artist Annie Graham (Toni Collette) and her family -- husband Steve (Gabriel Byrne), teenage son Peter (Alex Wolff), and daughter Charlie (Milly Shapiro) -- get ready for Annie's mother's funeral. Not long afterward, strange things start happening. Annie sees apparitions in the house, she begins sleepwalking again, and she wonders whether her family's troubled past is about to catch up with her. Meanwhile, Peter goes to a party and is forced to bring Charlie along. When she accidentally eats nuts and triggers her allergy, she's rushed to the hospital ... but a terrible car accident kills her instead. Then Peter starts seeing and hearing strange things, too. At a grief counseling group meeting, Annie meets Joan (Ann Dowd), who offers to teach Annie a way to contact Charlie via the spirit world. Unfortunately, the séance causes things to get even stranger.
Is It Any Good?
This clammy, creeping horror movie is deeply rooted in classics from the 1960s, '70s, and beyond, but it also builds on them; it's deliberate and severe, and it's not afraid to cross a line or two. The feature writing and directing debut of Ari Aster, Hereditary draws from movies as far back as Rosemary's Baby and as recent as Poltergeist, with elements like ghosts, cults, and resurrections, but it uses them for inspiration only. Aster isn't interested in merely referencing. He goes deeper into things that are unsettling and uncontrollable. His camera continually draws back for a wider, more cathedral-like picture, allowing for more dire possibilities in each frame. Thanks to this -- and to Annie's freaky miniature models -- nightmares and so-called reality blur easily.
The movie's music and sound design (listen for that tongue click) are likewise chilling, recalling the throbbing, humming soundtracks of David Lynch's films but still effective. Yet it's the performances that finally sell Hereditary, notably Collette in a truly tormented turn. Annie is unsure of what's going on or what's real; she's stuck in a loop of shock and panic. Wolff is also appealing playing a more relatable type of terror, sitting at his desk at school, sleep-drained and wide-eyed. Unfortunately, Byrne is stuck in one of those nonbeliever roles, asked to grow angrily impatient at all the supernatural "nonsense" going on, but the movie doesn't suffer for it. Hereditary is a deeply unnerving experience, one that hard-core horror fans will eagerly drink in.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Hereditary's use of violence. How intense is it? Are characters made to feel powerless or helpless because of it? What's the impact of media violence on kids?
How scary is the movie? What's most scary about it? What's the appeal of scary movies?
How is teen drug use depicted? Is it glamorized (does it look cool)? Are there consequences? Why does that matter?
Have you ever had a hard time believing someone who's trying to tell you something or explain themselves? What makes a story believable? What makes a person believable or unbelievable?
- In theaters: June 8, 2018
- On DVD or streaming: September 4, 2018
- Cast: Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne, Alex Wolff
- Director: Ari Aster
- Studio: A24
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 127 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: horror violence, disturbing images, language, drug use and brief graphic nudity
- Last updated: May 20, 2023
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