Hereditary: Redefining Horror Cinema

The horror genre has a rich history of evolution, with each era introducing fresh perspectives and pushing boundaries. In recent years, Ari Aster‘s “Hereditary” has emerged as a pivotal film, redefining the horror landscape and paving the path for a new era in the genre. This article explores the reasons behind Hereditary’s impact and how it has influenced a shift in the way we perceive and experience horror on the big screen.

1. Unsettling Realism

One of the key factors that set “Hereditary” apart is its commitment to unsettling realism. Unlike traditional horror films that often rely on supernatural elements, Hereditary delves into the horrors of the human psyche and familial relationships. The film confronts audiences with the uncomfortable notion that true horror can be found within the complexities of family dynamics.

2. Emotional Resonance

Hereditary doesn’t merely aim to frighten; it seeks to emotionally resonate with its audience. By delving into the grief and trauma experienced by its characters, the film creates a profound connection with viewers. This emotional investment elevates the horror experience, making it more than just a succession of jump scares and supernatural phenomena.

3. Breaking Genre Conventions

Aster takes bold strides in breaking away from traditional horror conventions. “Hereditary” subverts audience expectations, challenging them to confront the unexpected. By defying established norms, the film opens the door to a new era of horror storytelling, where predictability is replaced by narrative uncertainty.

4. Artful Cinematography

The visual language of “Hereditary” is a testament to its commitment to artful storytelling. The film’s cinematography, led by Pawel Pogorzelski, captures the eerie atmosphere and intensifies the psychological impact. The use of meticulously crafted shots and unsettling imagery sets a new standard for how horror can be visually presented, ushering in a more sophisticated era for the genre.

5. Atmosphere over Jump Scares

In the post-“Hereditary” era, horror filmmakers are increasingly prioritizing atmosphere over cheap jump scares. Aster’s deliberate pacing and attention to detail create an atmosphere of sustained tension that lingers throughout the film. This shift encourages filmmakers to focus on building a palpable sense of dread, rather than relying on quick, startling moments.

6. Ambiguous Storytelling

A notable aspect of “Hereditary” is its commitment to ambiguity. The film presents a narrative that keeps audiences questioning and interpreting. This deliberate ambiguity challenges viewers to engage more actively with the story, fostering a sense of intellectual horror that transcends the typical visceral reactions associated with the genre. For a detailed break down read this Hereditary explanation by This is Barry.

7. Psychological Horror Takes Center Stage

“Hereditary” places a heavy emphasis on psychological horror, exploring the fragility of the human mind. The film’s descent into madness and the blurring of reality and hallucination set a precedent for a new wave of horror films that delve deep into the psyche, eschewing external monsters for the internal demons that haunt the human consciousness.

8. Auteur-driven Horror

Ari Aster’s distinctive directorial voice in “Hereditary” signals a trend toward auteur-driven horror. As audiences increasingly seek unique and personal visions within the genre, filmmakers are empowered to infuse their work with individuality. This shift places greater importance on the director’s role in shaping the horror experience and encourages the exploration of unconventional narratives.

9. Complex Female Characters

The portrayal of complex female characters is a noteworthy departure from traditional horror tropes in “Hereditary.” Aster crafts female protagonists who defy stereotypes, showcasing the strength, vulnerability, and complexity of women in the horror genre. This nuanced representation signals a departure from the one-dimensional female characters often seen in classic horror films.

10. Sound Design as a Narrative Tool

“Hereditary” masterfully employs sound design as a narrative tool, creating an immersive experience that transcends the visual. The subtle use of unsettling sounds and a haunting score by Colin Stetson enhances the film’s ability to evoke fear on a psychological level. This emphasis on auditory elements as integral components of horror storytelling has influenced subsequent films seeking to maximize the impact of sound in their narratives.

11. The Rise of Folk Horror

A subgenre that gained prominence after “Hereditary” is folk horror. Drawing on elements of pagan rituals, ancestral curses, and rural landscapes, this subgenre explores the primal fears associated with ancient traditions. “Hereditary’s” success has paved the way for a renewed interest in folk horror, with filmmakers exploring the terrors that lurk in the forgotten corners of folklore.

12. Critical Acclaim and Commercial Success

“Hereditary” not only achieved critical acclaim but also demonstrated that a horror film could be both artistically groundbreaking and commercially successful. This dual success has encouraged studios and filmmakers to invest in more ambitious and unconventional horror projects, further diversifying the genre.

13. Influencing Future Filmmakers

Perhaps the most significant impact of “Hereditary” is its influence on a new generation of filmmakers. The success of the film has inspired emerging talents to push the boundaries of horror, emboldening them to experiment with unconventional narratives, delve into psychological depths, and challenge the status quo. As these filmmakers continue to emerge, “Hereditary” will stand as a milestone in the evolution of horror cinema, marking a turning point that paved the way for a new era of storytelling in the genre.

In Conclusion

“Hereditary” has undeniably left an indelible mark on the horror genre, steering it toward a bold and uncharted future. By dismantling traditional conventions, embracing emotional depth, and fostering an atmosphere of palpable dread, Ari Aster’s masterpiece has given birth to a new era of horror storytelling. Its impact is felt not only in the critical acclaim and commercial success it garnered but also in the transformative influence it has had on filmmakers and audiences alike.

As we navigate this evolving landscape of horror cinema, “Hereditary” stands as a haunting beacon that beckons filmmakers to venture into unexplored territories, challenging them to redefine the boundaries of fear. Its legacy extends beyond the screen, shaping the way we perceive horror and inspiring a generation of storytellers to embrace the unconventional. In the wake of “Hereditary,” the horror genre is not merely a realm of supernatural entities and jump scares; it has become a canvas for profound exploration of the human psyche, familial complexities, and the depths of existential dread. As we eagerly anticipate the films that will follow in its wake, one thing is certain – “Hereditary” has not only redefined horror but has sown the seeds for a future where the genre’s potential knows no bounds.


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