Hereditary ★★ 1/2

You’ll see few debut films more technically accomplished than Ari Aster’s Hereditary. Clearly, the 30-something graduate of the American Film Institute Conservatory is a natural behind the camera, but once his horror mashup of Ordinary People and Rosemary’s Baby reaches its increasingly silly third act, it’s clear his screenwriting abilities could use more work. While many might find this movie’s denouement to be terrifying, Aster’s overwritten finale should have left more to the imagination. But thankfully, the buildup is unsettling to just about anyone. More than the meticulously framed symmetry of the Kubrickian visuals, or the taut editing that strings the shots together, it’s the unnerving sound design that will keep most viewers on edge, driven by a near constant use of low- frequency noise. Taken together, these elements generate a strong feeling of queasiness as viewers witness a family fracture during the events after the funeral that opens the film. Perspectives are upended from the first frame forward; as such, it’s not quite clear who the protagonist is, even if Annie Graham (Toni Collette) sees the most screen time. It’s her mother who has died, and the dysfunction the two shared is creeping into Annie’s relationships with husband Steve (Gabriel Byrne) and their two children, gloomy stoner Peter (Alex Wolff) and his odd younger sister, 13-year-old Charlie (newcomer Milly Shapiro). But the strong character arcs only make Aster’s derivative climax all the more frustrating. (At Assembly Row, Boston Common, Coolidge Corner, Fenway, Kendall Square, Seaport, Somerville, South Bay and in the suburbs.)

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