Family issues and haunting concerns are featured in Hereditary.  This movie is sometimes effective, sometimes wandering in the tone it wants to set.

The movie seems to begin as a ghost movie.  Ellen Graham has passed away from cancer in her 70s, and her family deals with her death in different ways.  Daughter Annie (Toni Collette) has conflicted feelings about her late mother and throws herself into her art: making miniature scenes from her life.  Her teenage son Peter (Alex Wolff) seems concerned with teen interests, like getting high and women in his class.  Quiet younger daughter Charlie (Milly Shapiro) makes clicking noises and has a disturbing reaction to finding a dead bird outside her classroom.  And father Steve (Gabriel Byrne) just wants to hold his family together.
The movie also enters into ghostly territory: figures appear in the shadows and vanish when lights are turned on, a blob of light seems to flow along the walls or follow people.  But when a horrible tragedy strikes the Grahams, the movie shifts into a different mode: family drama, where the amily members deal with a new horror, often in destructive and vindictive ways.  Then the movie shifts a final time into near-gonzo horror, where things really go insane.
This shift in tones weakens Hereditary, but there's plenty that does work here.  Toni Collette is very good as the mother dealing with both her issues with her late mother and concerns about her family.  Milly Shapiro is nicely creepy as the kid who may have something sinister going on in her own little world.  The miniatures add to the disturbing atmosphere, and while the end phase is crazy it also builds suspense and horror.  I just wish there was more consistency here.

Overall grade: B-
Reviewed by James Lynch

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