Usually, the houses we remember in horror films are the haunted ones, or ones on alliterative hills. Even the Elm Street house is haunted by Freddy’s spirit, and the Myers home in Haddonfield by Michael’s legacy. You’ll remember the house in Hereditary (review) too, although the house itself is not the primary source of the horror. In fact, it’s so memorable that Annie Graham (Toni Collette) is building a diorama of the house inside the house.
“I definitely wanted to achieve a dollhouse aesthetic with this film,” writer/director Ari Aster said.
“One way that we did that was by building the entire house on stage so everything interior, the first floor, second floor, attic and everything to do with the treehouse was built from scratch. One reason we did that was so that we could remove walls which means that we can pull out and get wider shots than you otherwise would be able to without having to put on a 15mm lens or a 10mm lens.”
Most of Hereditary is set in the house. The Graham family is grieving a loss, dealing with their dysfunctional issues and experiencing haunting incidents. Since he’d be spending the bulk of the movie there, Aster wanted to design it in a way that allowed flexible camera moves.
“Another reason that we built everything from scratch was so that we would have hallways and doorways wide enough to get dollies through,” Aster said. “We really wanted to have a more athletic camera. I certainly wanted to stretch shots out as long as we possibly could. I avoided traditional coverage wherever I could and most of the shots in the film are sequenced.”
In the beginning of the movie, a tracking shot blends from the diorama into a room of the actual house.
“The opening shot does involve a push-in on a miniature where we’re moving towards a replica of Peter’s bedroom but we separately shot a wide plate of Peter’s actual bedroom with the wall removed so that we could get a true wide shot,” Aster said. “We then laid in that plate over the replica. The wonderful visual effects artists at Brainstorm did a beautiful job incorporating the plate of Peter’s actual room into the miniature.”
Check out the house in Hereditary in theaters this weekend.