I’ve just started a new series on Film Inquiry, where I write about portrayals of mental illness, health and wellness (both explicit representations and interpretations) in film.
I have a lot of ideas for this series as it goes on, but first of all I’m writing about this year’s biggest horror movie: Hereditary.
There’s a heavy weight of expectations when it comes to seeing Hereditary, as it is the latest film to find itself anointed ‘Scariest Horror of the Year’. I went into the film trying to put aside these expectations and see what I really thought of it, but came out a little confused. I wasn’t sure whether or not it was a great film, but I was absolutely certain that it’d had a significant, harrowing effect on me.
A common angle for horror films is to target specific, relatable fears, and take them to the next level. Bringing the fears we are often told are irrational to life is particularly disturbing for those who live, consciously or not, with that fear.
For those that suffer from mental illness, director and writer Ari Aster taps into a specific fear – that of what we inherit, and what we pass on.