Hereditary - my second watch. (Spoilers).
I had a much more analytical watch this second time round of
Hereditary & i’m even more in awe of the psychological consciousness of how the filmmaking & narrative is layered. Ari Aster is very informed on Psychology & for people who experience some form of psychotic break or mental illness it can be explainable in their minds to use the supernatural as an explanation. This is a much debated & discussed topic of psychology & the cross over of some psychotic symptoms that are mistaken for demonic influence. Criminals commit unthinkable acts recollect that they heard voices in their heads telling them what to do it. Evil people can be born but can also be made as with the nature nurture debate. Ari Aster uses Hereditary as a fun experimental platform to discuss this so it’s a lightening bolt idea to have for a film & I can see its comparisons to Get Out clearly now. These are my own conclusions on the meanings of the
psychology behind the film & what the screen reflected back to me.
Everything we need to know is predetermined before the first shot; as the title clearly states; Hereditary & in this case the predetermined horror is set in motion by genetic influences.
We’re spoon fed hints of the ever building horror to come which until once you know, you don’t pick up on until a second viewing. It all begins with Leigh’s death & the film is set into motion by grief; leading daughter Annie to a group therapy. She has been avoidant of dealing with her strained mother-daughter relationship but grief has now made this unavoidable. Therapy is her first step to a new awareness & it’s horrific; literally as horror becomes a metaphor for her awareness. That idea that once you know you cannot undo; the duality of this & how this represents the horror genre narrative is extremely clever. There are repetitions of cycles through the narrative which reflect the inescapable repetition of genetic wiring suggesting this has always been predetermined; removing the element of choice out of the narrative; for instance; the telephone post being marked with the cult’s symbol on the return drive from the funeral.
"A sudden plunge in the sullen swell. Ten fathoms deep on the road to hell."
Another repetitious scene shows Charlie & Peter separately within the narrative, seeing a figure as if conjured calling out to them at the school gates.
A lot has been predetermined before the audience enter the narrative; Charlie as we know her isn’t just forgivably strange; she is not Charlie & never was. When we compare this to Peter’s character, it shows the bad outcome of nurture vs nature if someone is refined by a toxic influence within their upbringing. Annie tries desperately to suppress the horror of the regret she feels to be Peter’s mother but her subconscious seeps into her dreams, sleepwalking & artistic outlet where she works through these instinctive feelings. She tries as any mother would to love her children but with the absence of a good role model she ultimately loves them in the wrong way. There is a cult like bubbling effect within their family & therefore a lot of repression. Annie deals by resistance, Peter uses weed to untense, Steve is simply oblivious which ultimately seals his fate as the first to die. The more aware Annie becomes the quicker the horror paces yet she ultimately redeems herself in desperately trying to prevent Peter’s fate but as some things are just set. Peter passes over the point of return when the grief sets in from his sisters ‘accidental’ death. Grief becomes the metamorphosis for Annie & Peter & the clicking sound is as much about those demonic hoofs as it is a ticking clock of their impending doom.