My Top 20 Scares of 2020: #4

Four days until the end of the year! Do you have your resolutions yet?

Mine is going to be to watch only horror created/written/directed by women. (OK actually just in January probably.) ANYWAY STAY TUNED FOR A WHOLE POST ABOUT IT.

Here is my #4 scare of 2020:

#4. HEREDITARY (2018)


Written and directed by Ari Aster in his feature film debut, HEREDITARY (2018) tells the story of a family with numerous health issues, including hereditary (look. the title.) mental health problems, asthma, and possession by an evil demon! It does one of my favorite horror things: beginning with an incomparably horrible event! In this case, the gruesome death of a child! Charlie (Milly Shapiro) is an unsettling youth whose life and also death are disturbing and nauseating and I love everything about her. The only things that could make this movie better are 1) a better underlying gender thing (discussed below) and 2) more Charlie. But also: Charlie’s death is so dang iconic! That I’m actually zero percent mad she dies. It’s so horrible and great.

Regarding the underlying gender thing I will just say this: it’s not so delightful to me that the (relatively few) surviving women characters are all living in service of the larger goal of serving some pagan god who’s main goal is…having a male body? Fine, I guess, but ultimately not that interesting. It’s a more pleasurable if you don’t think about that part too hard. Instead, think about this:

HEREDITARY puts some very pretty stuff onscreen! I don’t know that HEREDITARY qualifies as idyllic horror overall, but the many tiny models made by Annie (Toni Collette) are equal parts lovely and creepy and add to the uncanny feeling that dominates the emotional landscape of the film.

This is a super flick that asks the question: are you crazy or are you haunted? And the answer is: yes.

How Did It Score
  • How scary was it? 4.5/5
  • How memorable was it? 4.5/5
  • Was it a Quality film? 3/5
    • Points for very pretty tiny model houses. Points for being a matriarchal/exploration of family thing. Points lost because the matriarchal thing turns into a bunch of ladies worshipping a male demon. Nobody said the list was objective.
  • How about those women? 3/5
  • Bonus: 1
    • I will forever be haunted by telephone pole decapitation.
  • Total points: 16/20
    • Note: HEREDITARY has the same total score as yesterday’s pick, CANDYMAN (1992). Per the rules laid out in the first post of the series, I broke the tie using the “How scary was it?” score. HEREDITARY is terrifying.

Published by Brandy N. Carie

Playwright. Director. Producer. Feminist Takes on Horror Films.

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