Hereditary is a horror film directed by Ari Aster, starring Toni Collette as Annie Graham, Gabriel Byrne as her husband Steve Graham, Alex Wolff as son Peter, and Milly Shapiro as daughter Charlie. It centers on a family that suffers from a horrible tragedy and begins to fall apart, all the while sinister secrets are dug up. Much like The Witch, the film is more of a slow-burn horror in terms of pacing. Unlike The Witch, the film is set in the modern day.
Firstly, the acting. Toni Collette's acting as Annie, mother of two and whose own mother had recently died, is beyond excellent, with certain scenes in particular allowing her to show a wide range of emotions and deliver a genuine performance, at times unsettling, at times heart-wrenching, but 100% real and believable. Gabriel Byrne, as well-meaning father Steve, serves as the most grounded center for the film, the middleman in the familial conflict between Annie and Peter. Alex Wolff's Peter is a 16-year-old with a lot of emotional baggage, much like his mother. He can come across as a little immature and irresponsible at times, but Wolff infuses the performance with an innocence, constantly wide-eyed with fear or upset, that you can't help but feel very sorry for him. Milly Shapiro's Charlie is honestly one of the best "creepy child" performances in recent memory, moving with a somewhat ominous yet innocuously slow pace, and always doing a strange clicking noise with her tongue. The clicking was so effective that I have an instinctive shivering reaction every time I heard it. An acting highlight in the film is the scene where Annie and Peter suddenly start arguing at the dinner table, probably one of the best scenes ever put to film, with the argument progressing realistically and the dialogue flowing very naturally much like how a real argument would be between two people struggling to come to terms with grief and loss.
Secondly, the plot. To say that the plot goes into some wildly unexpected territory would be a huge understatement. At its core, the story is about how the family slowly unravels in the face of a tragic loss, while also uncovering certain secrets about the family. This is done gradually, with Annie telling a support group how her mother was controlling and manipulative, and how she forced Annie to let her take care of Charlie. Tensions between Peter and Annie also begin to build up. The plot takes a wild turn about 30 minutes in, leaving audiences reeling and unsure of how the film will proceed. It is a great way to throw the audience for a loop and leaving them shocked. The event also begins a gradual build-up of dread that does not let up throughout the entire runtime of the film, gradually heightened through disturbing imagery and the reveal of shocking truths about Annie and her family's history. It is not without reason that Hereditary has been dubbed "one of the scariest films since The Exorcist".
Hereditary is a tightly-plotted "slow-burn" horror film with excellent performances, particularly from Toni Collette and Alex Wolff, focusing on the aftermath of a great loss in a family, relying more on horrific imagery and escalating tension than jump scares, and with plenty of unexpected twists. Definitely among the scariest and most well-made horror films of the last decade.
The Witch is a horror film directed by Robert Eggers, starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, and Kate Dickie. It follows an American Puritan family in the 1630s living in exile at the edge of a nearby forest as they are tormented by hostile otherworldly forces.
Firstly, the acting. Anya Taylor-Joy's performance as Thomasin, eldest daughter of the family, is wonderfully intense and sincere in displaying the hardships of the life of a young Puritan girl, especially one whose role in the family is so thankless and ignored. Throughout the film, she tries to win her mother's approval and dutifully support her family, but is instead repeatedly used as a scapegoat for much of the family's woes. Ralph Ineson plays gruff but well-meaning father William, and Kate Dickie plays distant mother Katherine. Every character feels real, no doubt helped by the authentic dialogue accurate to the time period, which must have been difficult to remember and was painstakingly researched by the production team.
Secondly, the atmosphere. The whole film has a constant air of tragedy and sadness, and even in scenes where there is nothing overtly scary happening, the viewer will be on the edge of their seat, expecting something horrible to happen, but no. The tension builds and builds. Over the course of the film, the bonds between the family members are pushed to the limit as they grow increasingly desperate and some become hostile to one another, charging each scene with a sense of profound unease, so you're never certain of what will happen next. That is the masterstroke of the film, the continual "slow-burn" tension and uncertainty that will keep audiences disoriented and searching for concrete answers.
The film, aside from being a horror film focused largely on exploiting tension and unsettling imagery, is also an excellent demonstration of how harsh the average Puritan family's life was at the time, out in the wilderness without support, and how quickly a family can succumb to paranoia thanks to stress and tragedy. Thanks to the mixture of more mundane family drama and gripping terror, there are many ways to interpret the film's events, and I am glad that the film allows for that flexibility since I feel that horror, with its basis in creating fear, should let audiences draw on their own fears and experiences while watching.
In conclusion, the film is an excellent "slow-burn" horror film, with masterful performances, a great mood and atmosphere, and the benefit of being vague enough to allow for multiple interpretations.
Run is a thriller directed by Aneesh Chaganty and starred Sarah Paulson and Kiera Allen. Kiera Allen stars as Chloe, a young woman excited to go to college but is unfortunately plagued by various illnesses that necessitate the constant care of her mother Diane, played excellently by Paulson, who has homeschooled her ever since she was young. The film is mainly set in their house, and from the start there are already hints of underlying tension slowly developing between mother and daughter as Chloe begins to suspect her mother of keeping secrets from her.
The plot is simple enough. Chloe is a wheelchair-bound young woman who begins to notice something strange about her mother and her secretive manner and strives to understand more about her situation. Kiera Allen, herself a wheelchair-using actress, plays Chloe as a sheltered but resourceful young woman trying to understand her mother's increasingly sinister-seeming actions, played with a sense of vulnerability and quiet intelligence. Paulson's Diane is just as captivating, becoming a much more murkier presence as the film goes on. The film is essentially a long cat-and-mouse game between Chloe and Diane, and both women shine in their roles. The tension just ramps up in every scene, and it is a testament to Allen that she can hold her own, acting against someone as good as Paulson.
The minimalist setting of the house really worked wonders for the film. The story unfolds largely within the house and the familiar domestic setting becomes a place rife with thrilling tension and paranoia. The film is essentially a series of increasingly tense and elaborate set pieces in which Chloe notices something amiss and has to find various ways to uncover the truth without Diane noticing. One particular sequence involving the outside of the house was particularly heart-stopping tension and showed Chloe's resourcefulness aptly.
The film is also very well-shot, with good lighting and framing in every scene, keeping the audience focused on what is important in every shot, keeping them invested, and allowing them to feel the gradually building tension and Chloe's feelings of being lost and desperate. The camera also rarely strays far from Chloe, giving the audience a sense of presence and preserving a lot of tension when the audience is just as clueless as Chloe as to what could happen at any minute.
To say any more about this brilliantly made film would spoil it, but between the performances and the tense sequences, this is a very effective thriller that definitely deserves a watch.
This is a review of Carrie (2013), the 2013 remake adaptation of Stephen King's classic horror novel. It stars Chloe Grace Moretz as Carrie White, a troubled teenager who discovers that she has telekinetic powers, while having to contend with an abusive mother and school bullies. The film also stars Julianne Moore as Margaret White, Carrie's abusive mother and a religious fanatic; and Judy Greer played Miss Desjardin, Carrie's supportive gym teacher. Directed by Kimberly Peirce, the film is competently shot and the acting is good, but it just seems superfluous at times and comes off as a retread of well-worn territory.
Regarding the acting, Chloe Grace Moretz was a perfectly fine Carrie White, showing an apt level of vulnerability needed for the character and keeping that sense all throughout the film, even as she gains some more agency and confidence through her development of her powers. However, I have noticed (as have many others) that Moretz seemed a little too picture-perfect, a little too glamorously-portrayed to be regarded as a target ripe for bullying. It must be said that in real life, perfectly normal-looking people can and do get bullied, but in film, audience members usually expect some level of at least seeming unattractiveness from victims of bullying, while Moretz just seemed too attractive to be believable as someone being ostracized and bullied, even with her freak-out over her first period taken into consideration.Other than that, her performance was very good. Julianne Moore was a great deranged Margaret White, clearly having a fun time playing a disturbed religious fanatic. The actors and actresses who played the bullies weren't given much to do other than look attractive, act evil and condescending, and occasionally have doubts before doubling down on their vicious acts. The only exception is Sue, played by Gabriella Wilde, who regrets her part in the initial bullying and quickly tries to do her best to make amends to Carrie. She is shown as sympathetic yet helpless and rather ineffectual. Overall, the acting in the film was pretty good.
Regarding the plot, which hewed closely to the original novel, it concerns Carrie discovering her telekinetic powers amidst a tragic coming-of-age story, being bullied by popular girls at school and suffering at the hands of an abusive and overbearing single mother who has obsessively religious beliefs. However, because of this, it doesn't really do anything new and aside from a setting update into the late 2000s/the early 2010s, there isn't much of anything original here, nothing the novel and its older adaptations haven't already covered.
Overall, the film was competently made, being well-shot and with good editing, good acting, but had some bad special effects and a tired plot that comes off as a complete retread without adding much to the story.
Tenet is an action science-fiction thriller, the latest film directed by acclaimed director Christopher Nolan. It stars John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Dimple Kapadia, and Kenneth Branagh. Nolan staple actor Michael Caine also shows up briefly in a small but delightfully witty role.
The film centers on an unnamed CIA agent (played to cold perfection by Washington) who is recruited into a secret organization to help stop an upcoming apocalyptic event. This seems like typical action-thriller fare, but leave it up to Christopher Nolan to add in a mind-numbing caveat: time inversion. It turns out that a villainous businessman (played by Branagh) has obtained bullets and items that travel backwards through time, and is attempting to assemble a weapon that could destroy the past, and the protagonist must stop him, with the help of fellow agent Neil (played by a very suave Pattinson). Over the course of the film, we see various events from different perspectives, both in normal time and inverted, backwards time, and it is not until later in the film, or even towards the very end, that those events will have their true significance revealed. Basically, the film throws a lot at you in the opening hour, but all of the questions you may have will be largely answered by the film's end, giving plenty of "Aha!" moments.
One of the highlights of the film are the performances of Washington, Pattinson, Debicki, Branagh. Washington plays an ice-cold professional, laser-focused on his mission, equally a capable field agent and keeping a cool head during negotiations and unexpected situations. Pattinson's character Neil is no less a professional, but is a bit more witty than the comparatively serious CIA agent. Their characters' constant back-and-forth and general delightful chemistry provides a great deal of entertainment throughout the film. Branagh's villain Sator is gloriously over-the-top in his lines, yet delivers every line with a chilling effectiveness. However, all of those performances can feel a little one-note, existing as vehicles to propel the story forward, without much character development and coming off as cold and detached in spite of the engaging dialogue. Debicki's character Kat, on the other hand, has a simple yet relatable motivation: escaping from Sator's control. She gets a timely and understated character arc of finding the strength to escape from her abuser on her own initiative. This gradual development of Kat's character makes her feel that much more three-dimensional than many of the other characters in the film, who largely exist specifically to fill a certain role in the plot.
The film is amazingly shot, with a lot of attention to detail, with the sequences of time inversion invoking a sense of wonder and subtle uneasiness even though it does not make use of excessive computer-generated effects. The same goes for the action sequences. Yes, many of the action sequences and stunts were done with completely practical effects, and the effects of inversion is accomplished by playing footage backwards. It is all done so cleverly that you can easily find yourself on the edge of your seat during the intense action, both when they are seen in normal time, and when they are inverted. The editing is smooth, so the complex action and time inversion sequences can be followed with minimal difficulty.
The soundtrack is also superb, with Ludwig Göransson filling in for longtime Nolan collaborator Hans Zimmer. The score gives a lot of gravitas to every scene, no matter if it is an action scene, a quiet dramatic scene, or a tense negotiation scene. The sounds throughout the film provide a real sense of immersion into the world of the film. However, one complaint I have regarding the sound is that many loud sounds can be a little too loud, and can occasionally drown out important dialogue.
Tenet is an exciting thrill ride from start to finish, with a suitably twist-filled time-bending plot, exciting action sequences, and a fantastic score, bolstered by engaging performances, an emotional arc for Debicki's character, and awe-inspiring visuals. Even though the sound can be a bit too loud at times and many characters may be somewhat one-note, Tenet is undeniably an extremely entertaining film well worth your time.