Ari Aster's arthouse horror film Hereditary is one of those films that is sharply dividing critics and audiences. On one hand, critics are loving it, with AV Club reviewer A.A. Dowd calling Hereditary “the most traumatically terrifying horror movie in ages” and Rotten Tomatoes giving it a 92% “fresh” rating. Not to mention all the Oscar buzz that's starting to build over Toni Collette's sensational performance.
Yet on the other end of the aisle, average moviegoers are going, “Meh.” Not only does it have a D+ CinemaScore, but it also isn't drawing in viewers (even for an indie film).
So, what gives?
Well, over at Uproxx, Hereditary star Milly Shapiro, who plays the teen daughter Charlie, offers up a theory: People were “expecting the typical horror movie” and were more than a little confused and disappointed when they realized that they hadn't been given one.
“I think a lot of people don’t get it the first time, and they’re probably going in expecting the typical horror movie,” Shapiro told Uproxx, adding: “They’re not really open to a new style because it is very similar to The Exorcist and The Shining in that there is a lot of development and it’s not about jump scares.”
Shapiro added: “It’s about psychological scares, and I think a lot of people weren’t really sure what to expect when they went in... I think all the reviewers were going in with an open mind, and I think a lot of the people going in to see the film that didn’t like it weren’t really open to the new ideas of it.”
And in terms of that ending, which a lot of people most certainly did not care for, Shaprio suggested that the film’s ambiguous and complex finale may be better understood after seeing it more than once.
“I think in a way it is literal, but in a way, it’s also not, because everything that does happen does typically happen, but it’s hard to explain in a way because it is so complex at the end. You wouldn’t really get it unless you’ve seen it a few times. There’s a lot of speeches that when you see the film, if you understand the ending, and then you go and see it again, you can see all these little things.”
So. What do you all think? Were people let down because they were expecting a typical horror movie with a bunch of jump scares? Or did critics overhype the film and build up expectations that couldn’t possibly be met? Let us know in the comments below.