Category Archives: Movies

Movie Review: Tag

tag posterIt’s rare for a movie with so simple a premise to be not only uproariously funny but also heartfelt. The based-on-a-true-story of childhood friends who have been playing the same game of tag for 30 years is one of the funniest comedies of the year and pushes the boundaries of good taste in numerous ways.

One key theme here is these middle aged dudes all play a child’s game to try to stay young. This captures that fun and sense of play. It also captures that perfect sense of what it was to be young and have absolutely no filter– an 11-13 year old boy has probably the foulest mouth and mind on the planet, and most of these guys never completely grew up from that. It also features a great throwback soundtrack featuring hip hop and hard rock tracks from the 80’s and 90’s, giving the film a specific sense of nostalgia. Also, stick around during the credits to see/hear the cast sing a rendition of the Crash Test Dummies “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm.” See? Specific. We’re ready to party like it’s 1994, around which time our team of dummies ostensibly would have graduated from high school.

On our team of tag players are successful veterinarian “Hoagie” (Ed Helms) and his overly competitive wife Anna (Isla Fisher). They first recruit health insurance CEO Bob Callahan (Jon Hamm) when they crash an interview he’s doing with a reporter from the Wall St. Journal (Annabelle Wallis) who joins their game as she smells a story. (This is based on the true story that was published here) They track down stoner burnout “Chili” (Jake Johnson) and crash Kevin’s (Hannibal Burress) therapy session. The goal of all of this to to finally tag their one friend Jerry (Jeremy Renner) who has never been tagged –and they have the perfect opportunity to do so at his upcoming wedding.

And hijinks ensue.

The film, while definitely a comedy which tries to pack as many jokes into every minute as possible, plays out almost more like an action movie. This is in itself incredibly funny, as we see these middle-aged men play tag with all the style and staging of The Expendables or the most recent Fast and Furious movie. Every time they think they have Renner’s character cornered, time slows down and we see inside his mind as he anticipates every move, a la Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes films with Robert Downey, Jr. It’s a fun device which never gets overused thanks to the comedy always focusing on the characters and these mens’ relationships with each other.

Case in point, in an attempt to sew discord among the group, Jerry invites Cheryl (Rashida Jones) a former flame of both Bob and Chili’s to the wedding. It, of course, works to distract them because “lol these idiot man children playing a game are so predictable.”

What isn’t predictable are exactly the lengths Jerry has gone to in order to plan quick escapes from various situations and the theatricality with which he pulls them off. This includes a showdown in the woods where he literally pulls out a boombox and starts playing Ozzy’s “Crazy Train” to play with their minds.

What also is not predictable was just how sweet this movie is at its heart. Amidst reports like this article from The Boston Globe saying “The Biggest Threat to Middle-Aged Men Isn’t Smoking or Obesity – It’s Loneliness” it is truly great to find an inspiring story of how friends have managed to stay together. And watching the actual friends who the story is based on and their antics in the credits makes this even more worthwhile. While the end of the film gets a little bit tropey and sappy and you realize what’s actually going on, you might feel a little manipulated and tricked, but it’s mostly forgivable due to how fun the rest of the film is.

The cast really makes this film work. Hannibal Buress once again proves he is one of the funniest people on the planet, and his understated delivery and perfect timing are elegantly used here. Whether in a comedy special taking center stage, as the co-host of The Eric Andre Show, or as Peter Parker’s gym teacher, he is comedy’s secret weapon. Oh, and speaking of Spider-Man, it’s worth noting that Jake Johnson, who you may have only recognized from New Girl or Jurassic World is playing Peter Parker in this fall’s animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-VerseIsla Fisher is also hilarious and pitch perfect– mirroring in a lot of ways her breakout performance in Wedding Crashers. She also plays up the angle that, as a girl, she’s not allowed to play– and that the rest of the group are completely terrified of her because of how competitive she is. It begs the question why Buress and Fisher aren’t in more films.

This sounds silly, but this movie will make you want to play tag with your friends. In this day and age, that is not such a bad thing. It’s simple, wacky, filthy, irreverent, and utterly fun — just like playing with your friends in elementary and middle school.

3.5 out of 5 stars

Where the Data Ranks 2018’s Comic Book Films. Infinity War Crosses $2 Billion

Things are strong but slowing down for comic related films and with the summer box office blockbusters regularly coming, we’ll be seeing how many of these have long term legs.

This past weekend after a slew of new films Deadpool 2 dropped two spots at the box office coming in fifth place. It earned an estimated $8.8 million to bring its domestic total to $294.7 million. The film also added $9.8 million internationally and has now brought in $689.5 million worldwide. The film is now withing $100 million of the original. It’s overperforming the original overseas where it has earned 57.3% of its grosses compared to 53.6% for the original.

The film moved up three slots and is now the 25th highest grossing comic movie adaptation. It’s also the third highest grossing “X” film worldwide (not adjusted for inflation).

Avengers: Infinity War came in at #8 for the weekend adding an estimated $5.3 million to its domestic total. The film has earned $644.2 million domestically. The film crossed the $2 billion mark, the fourth film ever to do so, and has earned $2.020 billion. Domestically, the film is the second highest grossing comic adaptation (not adjusted for inflation) behind this year’s Black Panther. The difference between the two is the foreign gross where Infinity War has over doubled Black Panther‘s take.

Black Panther slipped one spot to come in at #26 and added $147,000 to bring its domestic total to $699.6 million after 18 weeks. Worldwide the film has earned $1.346 billion.

The Death of Stalin wasn’t on the chart but still brought dollars in over the week bringing its total to $7,978,274 about an $20,000 increase. That’s an improvement from the previous week’s $18,000.

My Friend Dahmer which was released domestically in 2017 opened up in some international markets. It has earned $74,712 which is about $15,000 more than the previous week.

I Kill Giants continues to be a weird one when it comes to numbers. Some more numbers have come in. According to what little we could find, it looks like the film’s domestic box office has brought in $183,754. All together, the film has earned a reported $263,621 at the foreign box office. The movie was released on demand at the same time in theaters, so the film has made money it’s just unknown how much.

Here’s where this year’s comic films stand as far as the actual numbers. With a new film opening the averages have dipped.

Total Domestic Gross: $1.667 billion
Total International Gross: $2.410 billion
Worldwide Gross: $4.077 billion
Total Reported Budgets: $625.1 million
Total “Profit”: $3431 billion

Average Domestic Gross: $333.3 million
Average International Gross: $482.1 million
Average: Worldwide Gross: $815.4 million
Average Budget: $156.3 million
Average Profit: $659.1 million

Below is where the films released stand when it comes to being compared to this year’s averages. Those in green are above average while those below are red.

Incredibles 2 Delivers a Record Setting $180 Million Opening

The Incredibles 2 was, well, incredible at the weekend box office. The film had an amazing opening shattering the previous record for the opening of an animated film but it’s also one of the top ten openings of all-time.

Incredibles 2 earned an estimated $180 million which beat Finding Dory‘s $135 million opening, the previous best opening for an animated film. That total is te eighth largest opening of all time beating 2016’s Captain America: Civil War‘s $179.1 million.

Internationally, the brough in an estimated $51.5 million from about 26% of the international market. That’s a global total of $231.5 million.

The film earned an “A+” CinemaScore and everything says this film will likely cross $500 million domestically.

Ocean’s 8 dropped to second place with an etimated $19.6 million to bring its domestic total to $79.2 million and $116.3 million worldwide so far.

Tag debuted in third place with an estimated $14.6 million. The film was slightly below expectations. Internationally the film eaned $1.4 million in seven markets.

In fourth place was Solo: A Star Wars Story which earned an estimated $9.1 million to bring its domestic total to $192.8 million. Internationally the film earned $5.2 million to bring its worldwide total to $339.5 million.

Rounding out the top five was Deadpool 2 which earned an estimated $8.8 million to bring its domestic total to $294.7 million. The film also added $9.8 million internationally and has now earned $689.5 million worldwide. The film is now withing $100 million of the original. It’s overperforming the original overseas where it has earned 57.3% of its grosses compared to 53.6% for the original.

In other comic movie news…

Avengers: Infinity War came in at #8 for the weekend adding an estimated $5.3 million to its domestic total. The film has earned $644.2 million domestically. The film crossed the $2 billion mark, the fourth film ever to do so, and has earned $2.020 billion.

Black Panther slipped one spot to come in at #26 and added $147,000 to bring its domestic total to $699.6 million after 18 weeks. Worldwide the film has earned $1.346 billion.

We’ll be back in an hour to dive deeper into the numbers of 2018’s comic film adaptations.

Wonder Woman Fast Forwards to the 1980s as the Film Begins Production

Wonder Woman was one of the biggest hits of last year and it’s not surprising that the film is getting a sequel, Wonder Woman 1984. The movie has begun production and is currently filming in the Washington, DC region as it transforms the area into its 80s self.

Wonder Woman 1984 will find the hero up against The Cheatah played by Kristen Wiig. Chris Pine returns as Steve Trevor a mystery since his character seemingly died in the previous film. Also new to the film is Pedro Pascal and Gale Gadot returns as the hero.

Patty Jenkins is directing the film and she’s joined by director of photography Matthew Jensen, Oscar-nomination production designer Aline Bonetto, and Oscar-winning costume designer Lindy Hemming. Oscar-nominated editor Richard Pearson will cut the film.

In addition to Washington, DC and Alexandria, Virginia, filming will take place in the UK, Spain, and Canary Islands.

Wonder Woman 1984 will be in theaters November 1, 2019.

Movie Review: Incredibles 2

14 years is a long time between films and I would wait that length again and again if it meant I continued to get more films based on the Incredibles. Incredibles 2 is the rare sequel that improves upon the first in every way. The topics broached, the animation, the action, the humor, the family dynamic, even the end credits, they all come together for an even stronger film.

The Incredibles to me is one the best superhero films out there. It takes familiar characters and situations and improves upon them all with a nice little twist on fandom. A not so veiled spin on the Fantastic Four, the Pixar film out marvel’s Marvel. The family dynamic, the situations, the powers, it’s all just so good. So, I was nervous going in to this sequel and walking out I immediately bought tickets to see it again.

The movie is beyond self-aware packing in so much with a lot to say. That’s what happens when you wait 14 years to talk I guess. While sequels tend to suffer when they go bigger, this is the rare case when bigger is better.

The film picks up from the end of the original and goes from there. It riffs on Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War while also taking on politicians, gender roles, media and technology, and more. There’s a lot to take in and it’s a film you can spend hours discussing after. What’s better is, like other Pixar films, you can go in and just enjoy it.

The opening of the film is where the first signs of improvement come in with animation that just looks better. The lighting, the action, it’s an opening statement that the film is taking advantage of what’s been learned between the two and has no problems using the latest technology.

What’s interesting though is that the politics of the film are up front and center. The basics of the story is that superheroes are still outlawed but there’s a plan to turn that legislation over and Elastigirl is put out there to show superheroes can do great things. Mr. Incredible isn’t digging that as much as he wants to get out there and be a hero too. Instead, he has to take care of the kids. And that leads to jealousy as his wife is supporting the family. The fragility of men, woman empowerment, gender roles, these are all very important aspects of the film and all of it is dealt with intelligently. The film some how seems to address both the women can kick-ass crowd in Elastigirl as well as white working class America in Mr. Incredible.

Our use of technology is also addressed in the villain Screenslaver who uses screens to enslave individuals. But, at times it’s technology that helps save the day too. It’s an interesting dynamic and there’s hours of thought to be decompressed and dissected.

There’s also an introduction to the superhero world as a whole. New characters are introduced and every one seems to riff on existing ones with a dose of humor about it all. Usually when we see so much introduced it falls flat but here every character has a use and a moment that makes their inclusion more than welcomed.

The film brings a massive amount of humor along with the action with that mostly focused on Jack-Jack who’s coming in to his powers. The moments are great and the character is a driver in many ways of the shaken up family dynamic. What should Mr. Incredible tell his wife? Can he handle being the main caregiver? Again, a lot to dissect.

The film is just… incredible. The music, the end credits, this is just a fantastic film and one that I want to watch again and again. We’ll hopefully get more and hopefully it’ll be sooner than 14 years but if whatever comes next is this good, I’m more than happy to wait.

Overall Rating: 10

Geoff Johns Signs an Exclusive Deal with Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment and Launches Mad Ghost Productions and Pop Up Comic Imprint

Geoff Johns is launching Mad Ghost Productions and is entering into an exclusive writer/producer deal with Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment to create content across multiple divisions of the Studio, including films, television and comic books, based on current DC properties as well as new and re-imagined IP. As part of this deal, he will segue from his executive post as President and Chief Creative Officer of DC Entertainment to focus on creative matters full-time. DC Entertainment Publisher Jim Lee will expand his role to include the Chief Creative Officer title and responsibilities, and will continue to act as Publisher together with Dan DiDio as they have since 2010.

His publishing projects will include a new pop-up slate of comic books under the banner of “The Killing Zone” focusing on new and lesser known DC characters and titles. Johns will also be writing a Shazam! comic book series scheduled to be out in the fall. In addition, he will continue to write the commercial and critical hit Doomsday Clock, a comic book series illustrated by Gary Frank that collides the DC universe with the Watchmen universe, as well as the upcoming Three Jokers, illustrated by Jason Fabok.

Under this new deal, one of Johns’ first film projects will be Warner Bros. Pictures’ Green Lantern Corps, based on his New York Times bestselling series that saw an impressive nine-year run, spawning additional spin-off titles and comic book events. Johns will write and be a producer on the film. Additionally, he co-wrote and executive produced Aquaman, which releases worldwide December 21, and is writing and executive producing the second installment of the Wonder Woman franchise with director Patty Jenkins, releasing in November 2019. New Line’s Shazam!, slated for an April 2019 release, is based on his original graphic novel.

On the television side, Johns co-developed and is executive producer and writer on the first original series for the upcoming DC Universe digital service, Titans, with Akiva Goldsman and Greg Berlanti. Johns also wrote the Titans episode “Doom Patrol” that is spinning off into its own 13-episode original series for the digital service. He is executive producing alongside Berlanti, Sarah Schechter and Jeremy Carver.  He has also been crucial in helping build the DC television empire and co-developed The CW’s most successful superhero show, The Flash. Alongside Peter Roth and WBTV, he has helped launch over a dozen additional hit television series such as Arrow, Gotham, iZombie, Supergirl, and Black Lightning, among others.

Where the Data Ranks 2018’s Comic Book Films. Infinity War Nears $2 Billion. Comic Films Cross $4 Billion Worldwide in Total.

Things are strong but slowing down for comic related films and with the summer box office blockbusters regularly coming, we’ll be seeing how many of these have long term legs.

This past weekend Deadpool 2 slid to third place with an estimated $13.7 million to bring its domestic total to $278.7 million. Internationally the film added $18.5 million to bring that total to $376.6 million and a worldwide total of $655.3 million.

The film moved up five slots and is now the 28th highest grossing comic movie adaptation. It’s also the third highest grossing “X” film worldwide (not adjusted for inflation).

Capping of the top five this past weekend was Avengers: Infinity War which earned an estimated $6.8 million to bring its domestic total to $654.7 million. It added $10.9 million internationally to bring its worldwide total to $1.998 billion. It’ll be the fourth film ever to top $2 billion. There’s no doubt it’ll cross that number this week.

Black Panther dropped a few spots to come in at #22 with an estimated $137,000. The film has brought in $699.4 million domestically and $1.346 billion worldwide.

The Death of Stalin wasn’t on the chart but still brought dollars in over the week bringing its total to $7,958,023 about an $18,000 increase.

My Friend Dahmer which was released domestically in 2017 opened up in Australia and the United Kingdom where it has brought in $59,491 so far.

I Kill Giants continues to be a weird one when it comes to numbers. Some more numbers have come in. According to what little we could find, it looks like the film’s domestic box office has brought in $183,754. All together, the film has earned a reported $263,621 at the foreign box office. The movie was released on demand at the same time in theaters, so the film has made money it’s just unknown how much.

Here’s where this year’s comic films stand as far as the actual numbers. With a new film opening the averages have dipped.

Total Domestic Gross: $1.641 billion
Total International Gross: $2.377 billion
Worldwide Gross: $4.017 billion
Total Reported Budgets: $625.1 million
Total “Profit”: $3.374 billion

Average Domestic Gross: $328.2 million
Average International Gross: $475.3 million
Average: Worldwide Gross: $803.5 million
Average Budget: $156.3 million
Average Profit: $647.2 million

Below is where the films released stand when it comes to being compared to this year’s averages. Those in green are above average while those below are red.

Ocean’s 8 Snags the Top Spot While Hereditary Opens Big By Buzz

Ocean’s 8 topped the weekend box office with the best opening for the franchise (not adjusting for inflation). With an estimated $41.5 million, the film outperformed estimates. It also earned $12.2 million at the foreign box office bringing its total to $53.7 million for the $70 million budgeted film. It will face tough competition as Incredibles 2 opens this coming week and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom the weekend after that.

The film earned a “B+” CinemaScore from the audience and was 69% female and 69% aged 25 years or older. The 11% that was 18 years or younger gave the film an “A” CinemaScore. We’ll see what the legs are but the film could be counter programming for the over the top summer films.

Dropping to second place was Solo: A Star Wars Story which earned an estimated $15.15 million bringing the domestic total to $176.1 million. The film also earned an stimated $11.3 million overseas to bring that total to $136.1 million for a global total of $312.2 million. The film has yet to open in Japan which happens on June 29. Expect this film to struggle to make it to $400 million worldwide.

Deadpool 2 slid to third place with an estimated $13.7 million to bring its domestic total to $278.7 million. Internationally the film added $18.5 million to bring that total to $376.6 million and a worldwide total of $655.3 million.

Fourth place say a new film, Hereditary which is the movie buzz right now. Driven by a strong word of mouth, the film earned an estimated $13 million beating projections. With a budget of just $10 million, everyong must be happy. Interestingly, the film received a “D+” CinemaScore from audiences. The audience was 58% male with 74% under 34 years of age.

Capping of the top five was Avengers: Infinity War which earned an estimated $6.8 million to bring its domestic total to $654.7 million. It added $10.9 million internationally to bring its worldwide total to $1.998 billion. It’ll be the fourth film ever to top $2 billion.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom opened in 48 overseas markets bringing in an estimated $151.1 million. It opens in North America on June 22 and rolls out in 21 overseas territories over the month. China is on June 15, Australia and Brazil June 21, Mexico is June 22, and Japan on July 13.

In other comic film news….

Black Panther dropped a few spots to come in at #22 with an estimated $137,000. The film has brought in $699.4 million domestically and $1.346 billion worldwide.

We’ll be back in an hour with an even deeper dive into 2018’s comic films.

Movie Review: Ocean’s 8

oceans 8 posterUsually in a movie like this, one actor will break out and steal every scene they’re in. Somehow, Ocean’s 8 manages to assemble a crew of master thieves who steal every scene from each other and more. Every performance is delightful and fun and a cure for any summertime blues or blockbuster fatigue you may be feeling.

The film completely understands its pedigree and apes the best of the previous Ocean’s caper films with its emphasis on style, fun and personal stakes beyond just whether the thieves pull off their crime.

Sandra Bullock plays the eponymous Debbie Ocean (sister of Danny Ocean from the other films). The film’s opening plays an explicit homage to the opening of Ocean’s 11, with a parole hearing and Debbie being released to the outside world. And then we begin to see exactly how different from (and probably better than) her brother she is.

Yes, she assembles a crew to pull off an impossible heist — in this case to steal a $150 million dollar diamond necklace at the Met Gala in New York — but she runs things differently and has personal reasons for what she’s doing.

Her right-hand woman is Lou (Cate Blanchett) who helps her assemble the team. Remember the scene stealing problem? Here are the main culprits:

Helena Bonham Carter plays a somewhat batty washed-up fashion designer. She is having so much fun with the role and is one of her best performances is years.
Anne Hathaway is playing Hollywood starlet Daphne Kluger, the mark from around whose neck the crew will have to steal the diamonds. Her performance is pure magic as a crippling indictment of the shallow, vapid personas of the Hollywood elite. And then in the final act it becomes something more, as you realize the actress is acting, too, and she’s only pretending to be that stupid, because that’s what society demands of her. It’s one of those classic “not just a pretty face” moments sets up a beautiful confrontation in the third act that completely flips the movie on its head. She is the Rosetta Stone of the film. More on this in a moment.
Awkwafina plays a pickpocket who can’t help but lift every single frame of the movie she’s in. She’s so delightful and compelling.
Rihanna is a master hacker who also is just a good thief. Rather than play up the “socially awkward nerd” trope, she’s just a normal human being who happens to be good with computers.
Sarah Paulson is a seemingly bored housewife who is secretly a criminal mastermind, selling stolen goods from her garage covering as having an EBay business.
Mindy Kaling is a jeweler henpecked by her mother who wants her to get married.

On top of this, you also have some incredibly fun other members of the cast including Richard Armitage as a dashing art dealer and a fun third act turn by a cast-against-type James Corden as an insurance inspector hot on the trail of our protagonists.

Each of them is so perfect and has specific things to do and a character arc. Of all of them, I would complain that Kaling’s character is a little bit underwritten, but her natural charisma more than compensates for any script deficiencies, as does a fun little bit about her learning how to use Tinder.

Speaking of the script, this was written and directed by Gary Ross, who has written some of my personal favorite movies like Big and Dave as well as writing and directing the first Hunger Games. Ross is good here and especially adept at writing and directing this cast of luminaries, but if there’s one complaint it’s that he’s not quite Steven Soderbergh, who just directed the hell out of Ocean’s 11. He’s also not quite Ted Griffin, who wrote the 2001 screenplay as well as other caper projects like Matchstick Men and the-yes-I’m-still-mad-this-got-cancelled-yes-as-mad-as-people-are-about-Firefly tv show Terriers. Ross apes the style and feel very well, but it’s missing a little bit of that je ne sais cuoi. One might argue that a female writer and director could’ve better brought this to the screen, but you have to give Ross a lot of credit for doing this so well, and it’s hard to judge against a hypothetical. Regardless, this isn’t a failing. This is still a strong script and strong direction.

One of the best pieces of the film is understanding its deepest meaning. In 2018, it should no longer be remarkable to have a female-forward cast. It’s almost trite and simple now to simply say, “Yeah! Girl power! Women can lead movies, too!” or “Diverse casts are awesome!” because, ya-doy, look at the box office.

Whenever some Status Quo Warrior (SQW, nee SJW) defender of the white male hedgemony gets his snowflake knickers in a twist and decides to start a tiki torch parade, all you have to do is look at the box office and what’s making money. All of our top-grossing films now have diverse casts and most have strong female leads.

What is most remarkable about Ocean’s 8 is that, yes, on the surface, you could gender swap every role and it would work the same. The same that Kaling, Rihanna, and Awkwafina’s characters could all be played by white people. But the point is that they’re not and they bring specifically bits of what it is to be, for example, the daughter of Indian parents who expect you to be married already, or how being a black woman allows for such erasure that you can easily sneak into a secure office building by posing as a janitor.

This leads to another of the film’s Rosetta Stone moments. When discussing their plans, Blanchett and Bullock are discussing bringing on another crew member who might be a man. Bullock stops her and points out that men get noticed. Women get ignored. And in this case, they want to get ignored. That’s part of the con.

If that doesn’t stop and make you think for a second, you missed the heart of this movie. Mix this with our Hollywood starlet intentionally playing dumb and vapid to meet everyone’s expectations, and it really skewers the soft bigotry of low expectations. Yes, there is an equality in terms of “women can do anything that men can do.” But in this case, it’s how society still treats women, and especially women of color, differently and ignores them that is the main point. Ultimately the caper that gets pulled here is on us.

But even if that social message breezes right by you (it’s quite subtle, like all good heist movies) you’re just left with so much fun. Every single one of these performances will bring a smile to your face just out of sheer enjoyment. Even with my most favorite films of the year so far, I didn’t get as much pure joy and fun out of them– often because they were more serious or dour.

But this is that time of year when blockbuster fatigue really starts to set in. Alongside this week’s release of Hereditary, these two films provide a beautiful counterprogramming to everything not clad in spandex and full of CGI and explosions. And if you’re not in the mood to have the bejeezus scared out of you, then this is your movie. Ocean’s 8 is that perfect summer poolside cocktail meant to be sipped and enjoyed over and over.

3.75 out of 5 stars

 

Movie Review: Hereditary

HEREDITARY posterMovies don’t normally scare me. Real life scares me enough. There have been some great films with horror elements this year: Annihilation still has some of the scariest moments of the year and A Quiet Place was magic.

Hereditary makes them look like church. Literally, I had too sleep with the lights on the night after seeing it. I’m still disturbed thinking about it.

One of the best things about it is how it blends so many different scary elements into a single narrative. It’s what makes the film hard to explain in terms of its plot and basic premise without spoiling things because you’re really not quite sure what’s going on, what’s real and what isn’t real, until almost the very end.

It also depends on things that are truly scary rather than just cheap jump scares. The scares are earned and come from character and building on the breadcrumbs that the script leaves ever so subtly on its way. In fact, most of the movie you’re just wondering if maybe this poor family just has bad mental health issues and that’s what’s causing all of these problems.

Central to this concern are the family’s parents played by Toni Collette and Gabriel Byrne. Her mother has just died, and the family is all dealing with their grief in different ways. Youngest daughter Charlie (Milly Shapiro) is not only the only one who seemed too have a positive relationship with the matriarch, but is also exhibiting strange, disturbing behavior of her own.

Collette also befriends a woman named Joan (Ann Dowd) at a grief support group. When Joan teaches her how to contact spirits from the other side, then things really start going haywire.

But aside from the supernatural elements, this is also just a portrait of a family in crisis and how they deal with death and grief. Oldest son Peter (Alex Wolff) is mostly in denial, turning to drugs to numb the pain and also just because he’s a normal teenager who gets high with his friends.

As the family increasingly is at each others’ throats, with mother and son blaming each other, the father is caught in the middle trying to keep it all together. And this is where Collette and Byrne shine.

Believe the hype when it comes to Toni Collette. She is the heart of this movie and we follow her mostly. We’re also left with the same impression her husband is. . . maybe she’s just cracking under the stress of what this family is going through, and these supernatural things are just imaginary? Is everyone just going crazy?

Since so much of the horror is therefore based in reality, it makes the film layered and scary on so many more layers than most other scary movies. And as the final pieces come together in the end, you’re left with a chilling choice: go back and watch it again to pick up what you may have missed, or say “Nope!” because no way are you watching something that scary and disturbing ever again.

Hereditary is that perfect summer counter-programming movie. An antidote to blockbuster fatigue, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. Make sure you have friends to talk about this movie with afterwards and a well-lit place to sleep the night after. Seriously, this may be a movie to check out in the middle of the day. It is just that scary.

4 out of 5 stars

« Older Entries