Directed by Ari Aster,
Starring Toni Collette, Milly Shapiro, Gabriel Byrne, Alex Wolff,
Psychological horror starring Toni Collette and Gabriel Bryne. A family is finding their grief difficult to cope with after their grandmother dies. Her daughter is emotionless after years of trying to deal with a secretive woman who had numerous mental health issues. When another tragedy hits the family there is seemingly no sense in what is going on, but little does the family know that events are moving along the right lines, or at least the right lines for those trying to stir up paranormal events.
I honestly didn’t think we are were going to get to see this, there was no notice of a press show, and after a week away in Edinburgh, I still had no notice of one, despite all the PR and buzz about the film. Showing up to an early screening of another film I learned that a strange email problem had hit the PR people and a number of reviewers didn’t get the message. Thankfully I was free and raging to see an actual horror movie with a cast that included Toni Collette. After seeing the numerous high profile reviews from critics around the world I was the little eager bunny to sit down and watch a film that was being touted as the next Exorcist, a claim made by many, realised by few.
The film from the very first minutes of the running time leaves you with a terrible, uneasy feeling. Experiencing a sense of discomfort and unease is part of a horror movie for me, I want that. I want to be thrown off balance, there is nothing worse than knowing where the story is going, and knowing that makes you comfortable. The way you get to know the characters is beautiful, with little bits of information just dribbling down to the audience. So after the funeral of the grandmother we can get behind the characters in a way.
Collette’s character is off balance and you feel she’s just one event away from a serious breakdown of her psyche. Gabriel Bryne, who abandons his attempt at an accent about half way through the film, he’s the husband, trying with all the strength he has, to keep the family together. Milly Shapiro plays the youngest child, somewhere on the Autistic Spectrum, with a maturity that you cannot deny, and she’s a major part of the disaster that shakes this family apart. Alex Wolff plays the son Peter, who has an on-edge relationship with Collette; Wolff is going to be one of those stars who we’ll see go on to great things.
I can say with my hand on heart that this doesn’t come close to the horror of The Exorcist, but I enjoyed the film, despite some flaws. There could have been a lot of minutes cut from the total running time, but then again, it’s a steady flow of story and character development. It’s just that you are left waiting a bit too much, for my taste. For a horror fan there are a lot of story ideas that we’ve seen before, granted though, not done as well as this. Collette could find her way to an award nomination next year. The film knows that it’s coming from a place where Rosemary’s Baby was at, trying to take in the paranormal and search for answers about our mortality and family.
There are some people out there that will only find refuge in the final half an hour, which is the true horror core of the film. The rest of the build up to that chunk of nasty, and it does get nasty, is amazing storytelling, just not pure horror. It takes the psychological supernatural and keeps you off balance through the over two hours running time. I loved feeling uncomfortable and disturbed through the film, the hope of the horror at the end was worth the wait, but to say it’s on the same level as The Exorcist, which still gives me goosebumps, well that’s a poor comparison but I’m not going to hold the PR people responsible for that!