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Needless to say, this article contains spoilers. Turn away if you haven’t seen the film.
While general audiences may be laughing their way through Hereditary and tweeting about how awful and boring it is, critics and horror fans alike are absolutely LOVING Ari Aster‘s feature debut, boldly released wide by A24 last weekend despite the film hardly being one that’s fit for mass enjoyment. Nothing about Hereditary is pleasant, as Aster essentially tortures you for 2+ hours with sequences and waking nightmares that’ll be etched into your brain for years to come. It’s a true HORROR film, in every sense of that word.
If you’ve seen Hereditary and were left pondering some questions about it, Aster himself is here to provide the answers. In a chat with Variety, he shares some welcome insights.
On the family having no control and the rule book for their curse being nonexistent…
“I see the film as being very Greek. This is absolutely inevitable, the family has absolutely no agency. That’s where the dollhouses came in. Annie creates these miniature figures and dollhouses and they served as a perfect metaphor for the situation; they’re dolls in a dollhouse being manipulated by outside forces. Any control they try to seize is hopeless.”
“Even [the notebook burning] scene is meant to play as Annie’s big redemptive moment: she’s going to sacrifice herself for her son. It’s a beautiful gesture but part of the cruel logic of the film is it’s an empty gesture. Ultimately, it’s not her choice to make. She thinks there’s a design here and she can end things if she sacrifices herself. But there’s no design and there are no rules. There is a malicious logic at play.”
On the casting spell that Joan gives Annie to read in her home…
“The thing is, that scene is ultimately a red herring, and it’s a piece of misdirection. It plays as a séance scene but really it’s a much darker conjuring and they need Annie to take part in it in order to bring it in the house and in order to further this ritual along. When she invites it in, she escalates things. But it would’ve happened anyway, we’re just seeing how it happened. We’re seeing one of the ways it could play out.”
On whether or not Paimon *always* lived inside of Charlie…
“Charlie is the first successful host for Paimon. From the moment she’s born. I mean, there’s a girl that was displaced, but she was displaced from the very beginning. It’s transferred from Charlie to Peter at the end.”
On Charlie’s bizarre toy-making obsession…
“I don’t want to be too obvious but we find later that Charlie has been building these figurines to populate a diorama she’s been building that serves as a shrine to Paimon. It also functions as a metaphor for what Paimon is doing to this family. If you look at the diorama you’ll see they’re headless figurines bowing to a pigeon-headed creature with a crown on its head, which is not far away from what we’re left with in the last scene of the film.”