The Meg

Jason Statham in The Meg (2018)It’s only tradition that every summer there needs to be the release of a ridiculous shark movie. Ever since Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece “Jaws”, production companies beg filmmakers to make action thrillers starring a shark as the main villain. They’re huge moneymakers, but sometimes their quality isn’t all that its built up to be. In recent years we got shark movies like “47 Meters Down” and “Sharknado”. They’re fun without a doubt, but how long will it take for the giant shark genre to hit rock bottom?

This summer, we received “The Meg” a movie about, as you can guess, a giant shark. Only this time, it’s bigger. The scientific name of the species of shark is Megaladon, a shark that can swallow many people at once in the single bite. When a team of scientists decide to dig deeper into the ocean, they open up a path for the prehistoric Megaladons to venture up, closer to human life. Now, it’s up to that team of scientists to fight the sharks as best they can. Although, it’s really only Jason Statham’s character who does anything noteworthy.

Statham plays Jonas Taylor, who once escaped the seventy-foot shark. He swore he would never return to the ocean, that is until he discovers that his ex-wife is trapped in the depths of the ocean being threatened by the presence of the Meg. That’s how Jonas gets into all the rest of the toothy business that continues from there. “The Meg” has a simple plot, but if you want some shark action and desire to see Jason Statham being Jason Statham, then this movie is for you.

What may drive more viewers to the theaters for this one, is Rainn Wilson, the star of the hit sitcom “The Office”. Be aware though, he isn’t at all like Dwight in “The Meg”. Wilson’s character goes through a bizarre turn that doesn’t seem to fit well with the rest of the movie, so if you’re seeing the movie for him, you may want to reconsider.

The shark action is plentiful but lacks some of the elements that make these types of films more enjoyable. Due to the poorly written screenplay, it’s difficult to care about any of the characters. The film also attempts to throw in a bizarre love triangle in the mix and it feels just as awkward as the movie’s premise. With more intriguing characters and better performances, “The Meg” would have stood a chance as one of the better shark films. Unfortunately, we got another average one, but one that still manages to entertain.

“The Meg” has plenty for audiences to laugh at, mostly its ridiculous shark sequences. Each action sequence gets more ridiculous than the last, that by the time the movie is almost towards the end of its runtime, you’ll be laughing at the movie whether you’re having a good time or not.  Ultimately though, “The Meg” lacks what makes films like “Jaws” so great. The film needs more layered characters, a much more intriguing story, and even more chomp.

Rated PG-13 for action/peril, bloody images and some language

Eighth Grade

Comedian and now writer/director Bo Burnham has created one of the most realistic and relatable films of the year so far. His directorial debut “Eighth Grade” is an outstanding achievement, ranking it up with the levels of Barry Jenkins’s “Moonlight” and Greta Gerwig’s “Lady Bird”. Elsie Fisher stars as Kayla, a shy Eighth grader who desires to make friends and survive the rest of her final year in middle school before moving on to high school. Through this, she learns the importance of being yourself, and more importantly about the process of growing up. Things can seem hopeless at that age, but once you get to know people and put yourself out there, its not as bad as it seems.

The film is beautiful in its own quirky little way. Its level of realism takes audiences right into Kayla’s life, and makes us empathetic through her character. She of course, goes through many ups and downs, just as any eighth grader does. Kayla experiences loads of anxiety and sadness, while also being an incredibly positive and lovable person. She gets nervous at pool parties, likes the stereotypical “bad boy” but cant seem to talk to him, and is constantly embarrassed by her father’s love for her. What kind of eighth grader doesn’t go through that type of stuff?

Elsie Fisher (fun fact: the voice of the youngest girl in “Despicable Me”) gives a relatable performance as Kayla, which will surely put her on the map for more indie films like this one. She conveys her character very well and delivers one of the finest young performances in recent years. Her performance is right up there with young performances like Jacob Trembly in “Room”, Milly Shapiro in “Hereditary” and Brooklyn Prince in “The Florida Project”.

Burnham’s debut is undoubtably funny and heartfelt from start to finish, with plenty of emotion and heartbreak thrown in the mix. Its screenplay is superbly well written by Bo Burnham, making for an excellent story, in addition to being an observational film that relies on realism more than plot. “Eighth Grade” is easily comparable to films like “Lady Bird” and “Moonlight”, both of which are coming of age stories produced by A24. The quality of Bo Burnham’s “Eighth Grade” is right up there with those recent masterpieces.

“Eighth Grade” is one of the most well-constructed movies of the year so far, with its impeccable direction and whimsical score. The performances have some clear talent behind them, and the finely directed central performance is enough of a reason to give the film some award recognition.

This sweet little coming of age story has a lot to it, but what’s most important to know is that it’ll give you all the feels. Just as Elsie experiences the ups and downs of eighth grade, so do we. The entire film is quite touching, and it will definitely make you smile.

Rated R for language and some sexual material

Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Angela Bassett, Ving Rhames, Henry Cavill, Rebecca Ferguson, and Simon Pegg in Mission: Impossible - Fallout (2018)“Mission Impossible – Fallout” is one of the biggest surprises of the year. In this sixth addition to the series, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team must infiltrate the Apostles, an organization that plans on acquiring plutonium. The organization is being led by John Lark, Hunt’s main target. Matters are severely complicated when CIA agent August Walker (Henry Cavill) joins Ethan Hunt. It’s a relatively simple plot, but one that does not cease to entertain.

“Fallout” is one of the more thrilling films in the series. It’s filled with constant action that refuses to lets audiences’ eyes leave the screen. There are about seven or eight long action sequences throughout the film that stand out. There’s not much else to say about the action other than the fact that it’s completely kick-ass and nonstop, making “Mission Impossible – Fallout” one of the best action movies since 2015’s “Mad Max: Fury Road”. This comes as a bit of a surprise, as Tom Cruise-centered action films tend to be pretty “just ok”, but this is so far the best Tom Cruise thriller we’ve seen in quite come time.

What possibly made the action so great, was the fact that Cruise performed many of his own stunts, most notably the helicopter scene. While Tom Cruise performances can be hit or miss, his devotion to his character in this film in very notable. Cruise is very enjoyable in “Fallout” and is of his best action performances to date. His talents are very ranged as well as in the nineties, he gave us some stellar dramatic performances in “Rain Man”, “Magnolia”, and “Eyes Wide Shut”, while still giving Cruise fans what they want in movies like “Top Gun”. Now, he doesn’t perform in as many dramatic roles, but as long as he’s jumping from buildings, running from explosions, or hanging out of helicopters, then we’re happy.

Many characters have returned for this film from previous “Mission Impossible” movies. This includes Luther (Ving Rhames), Benji (Simon Pegg), Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), and Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin). “Fallout” continues just a few years after the events of the previous installment “Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation”, so many of the characters are reprising their roles from that film. The characters are quite well-written in this installment, but this wouldn’t come as a surprise to those who saw the previous film. If you’re new to the franchise, its important to know that in addition to getting loads of thrilling action, the characters are also one reason to watch the film. Benji and Luther in particular have many great lines and are definitely the comic relief of the movie.

From the trailer, “Mission Impossible – Fallout” looks as though it may be similar to its predecessors. In a way it is, but in another way, it stands out as one of the most action-packed movies in recent years and is definitely the most thrilling film of 2018 so far, and yes, that’s including “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Black Panther”.

Rated PG-13 for violence and intense sequences of action, and for brief strong language

Sorry to Bother You

Lakeith Stanfield in Sorry to Bother You (2018)In this bizarrely entertaining indie film, an African American telemarketer finds they key to success through using a “white voice” to make sales, propelling him into higher job responsibilities and towards being a “power caller”. The power callers work upstairs and only the most talented make their way up there, but when Cassius makes his way to stardom, his life takes a dramatic turn that affects both him and the lives around him. The plot takes many unexpected turns from there and the film transforms into a bizarre acid trip that both intrigues and confuses. “Sorry to Bother You” is much more than it seems and once you witness the film for yourself, it’ll be evident why this is the most unique film of the year so far.

Lakeith Stanfield plays Cassius, the insecure telemarketer who eventually finds himself on top of the telemarketing agency. Many know the actor from his small performance in Jordan Peele’s “Get Out”, the most successful horror movie of last year. After starring in the Oscar-winning film, Stanfield now has the ability to breakout through different roles, and his role in “Sorry to Bother You” will put him on the map for years to come.

The film also stars Tessa Thompson (“Westworld”, “Annihilation”) as Detroit, Cassius’s girlfriend. Thompson gives a great performance as well, one that also stands out from her pervious roles. The remaining cast of “Sorry to Bother You” also consists of Jermaine Fowler, Omari Hardwick, Terry Crews, Danny Glover, Kate Berland, Steve Yeun, Michael X. Sommers, and Armie Hammer. The two “white voices” are conveyed by Patton Oswalt and David Cross.

“Sorry to Bother You” is writer/director Boots Riley’s first feature film. He is previously known for his rapping talents and now it looks like the rapper has a clear talent for direction. It’s easy to tell that it’s his first film with its questionable editing decisions, but it’s nevertheless a film with plenty of talent behind it.

Riley’s movie is a combination of multiple genres, mixing comedy, drama, romance, fantasy and science-fiction all into one nightmarish social-commentary. Like “Get Out” this film mixes humor with messages about the real world. Only this time, “Sorry to Both You” focuses much more on capitalism than race. However, the humor is at its peak throughout most of the movie through its dialogue, situations and its absurdly weird plot points. Towards the last third of the film, “Sorry to Bother You” turns into a completely different type of movie but seemed to get there with ease. Strangely, the theme shift works perfectly without ruining the rest of the film.

The film gets more and more dreamlike as the film continues, making audiences wonder if what they’re watching is actually happening or not. Scene by scene, the movie builds up its strange personality, until the end where it all comes crashing together. It works well on an entertainment level with its comedy and outlandish plot, while acting as a bit of a thinker as well. “Sorry to Bother You” definitely isn’t a film for everyone but for those who watch it, it will be an experience at the very least.

Rated R for pervasive language, some strong sexual content, graphic nudity, and drug use

Sicario: Day of the Soldado

Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro in Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018)After the drug cartels on the U.S-Mexico border begin trafficking terrorists, the CIA gives agent Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) the permission to use extreme measures to infiltrate those trafficking terrorist bombers. After receiving permission to kidnap the daughter of a cartel leader, Graves then teams up with Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro), who has a vendetta to settle with the cartels. All of this occurs while a young teenager becomes involved in the trafficking process, which leads to connecting timelines and unfortunate circumstances.

Benicio Del Toro is the notable actor here, as he gives a layered performance as the struggling assassin who attempts to keep the kidnaped girl safe by getting her across the border into the United States. Josh Brolin gives a great performance as well. Apparently 2018 is the year for Josh Brolin as he appeared on the big screen as villains in both “Deadpool 2” and “Avengers: Infinity War”. He has the range of giving comic book fans something to enjoy, in addition to fans of the thriller genre.

“Sicario: Day of the Soldado” is the sequel to the original “Sicario” which hit theaters back in 2015. The original film dealt with similar issues but focused mainly on drug trafficking. The new sequel has plenty of the same cast members, the two leads in particular. Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin both starred in the film’s predecessor, but the original film starred Emily Blunt as the lead, an actress that “Day of the Soldado” greatly needed. She was one of the reasons for the success of “Sicario” and her absence in the sequel leaves a bigger hole than needed.

The original film was also directed by Denis Villeneuve, one of the most talented directors working today. His artistry shined through that film, but that isn’t to say “Day of the Soldado” doesn’t come close. This film is well directed and even stayed on the same path of the first film by keeping the musical composition and cinematography as similar as possible.

“Sicario: Day of the Soldado” is written by Taylor Sheridan, who wrote the original screenplay as well. He is also known for constructing the screenplays for “Wind River” and “Hell or High Water”. Sheridan clearly has the talents for writing successful crime thrillers, and that same talent shows in his latest movie.

While comparing sequels to their predecessors is important, it’s also important to show how unique sequels can be on their own. “Sicario: Day of the Soldado” works perfectly fine as a crime thriller, even if you disconnect it from the first movie. It continues a storyline, but it isn’t necessarily important to have seen Denis Villeneuve’s film first. That said, on its own, the film is very intense and thrilling, all while keeping an incredibly dark tone throughout. Given its genre, it successfully does what it’s supposed to do; entertain. It may not be as though-provoking or uniquely directed as the original, but “Sicario: Day of the Soldado” is still a thrilling film that stands out from many others like it.

Rated R for strong violence, bloody images, and language

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)It likely looks as though the “Jurassic Park” franchise will grow to be as large and unnecessary as the “Transformers” or “Fast and Furious” movies. While it’s always fun to watch dinos run around and cause chaos, if it continues for too long, there is no doubt it will get old after a while. We can already start to see that happening with “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”.

Acting as the fifth instalment in the series, this Jurassic film is both frustratingly predictable, yet partially entertaining. After hearing news that a volcano on Isla Nublar is set to erupt, endangering the dinosaurs on the island, Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) decides to go back to the island to save the dinosaurs. She teams up with other dinosaur rights activists along with Owen (Chris Pratt) who joins the team to get back to Blue, a raptor the he befriended and trained since she was a newborn. However, the entire operation is being controlled by Eli Mills (Rafe Spall), whose plans are much more sinister than they appear.

Once the film introduces the main plot, the action jumps right in and gives little to no time for character development, making the movie feel much more like a “Fast and Furious” movie. We know so little about the new characters in this story, that if they were snatched up and eaten, it would have no effect. While the action is entertaining for the most part, it lacks anything that might help us care about its outcome. “Fallen Kingdom” tries much to hard to be exciting, that it makes it even less exciting. The two leads constantly get themselves into situations that force the audience to wonder how they’ll get out. This happens every twenty minutes and got annoyingly old after the third time. The constant peril takes over the entire film leaving no room for anything else.

Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are a bit underwhelming as the leads and the surrounding performances are nothing notable, with the expectation Justice Smith as Franklin, the overly annoying dinosaur rights-activists who has a continuously high-pitched scream that is supposed to be funny. Instead of being funny, his scream gets rather annoying as one could imagine. Rather than his performance, it’s the character that’s the problem, showing how the screenplay resorts to many lows.

The plot results in plenty of eye-rolling moments through both the dialogue and the plot. The very concept of rescuing dinosaurs from an exploding island isn’t very exciting from the beginning and the film lived up to its disappointment. On top of its basic premise, the dialogue gets pretty cheesy as the film goes on, something that some will love, and some will hate.

Towards the end, the film gets much more tense and actually gives audiences something to care about. The action seems to get more thrilling, though still not as entertaining as one would hope for a Jurassic movie. We can already see that the creative ideas for the franchise are slowly starting to fade, with this film in particular being one of the least unique Jurassic experiences. While it’s key to keep the plot unique and original, it’s also important to keep the sequels grounded within the franchise, reminding true “Jurassic Park” fans of the all-time classic. It’s pretty unlikely that these films and the inevitable upcoming sequels will ever live up to the nostalgic sensation of the original, but “Fallen Kingdom” strays the furthest away from that feeling.

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril

Incredibles 2

Samuel L. Jackson, Holly Hunter, Craig T. Nelson, Brad Bird, and Huck Milner in Incredibles 2 (2018)Pixar’s latest adventure brings back the Fantastic Four-like animated superheroes we saw back fourteen years ago. Pixar’s “The Incredibles” showed us a family of superheroes; Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl, Violet and Dash, along with their friend Frozone. We even got a glimpse of the newborn Jack-Jack, whose powers remained a mystery until the end. Now, after fourteen years, we pick up right where the original left off with the Incredibles about ready to fight the supervillain named The Underminer. This isn’t the focal point of the sequel but acts as a nice bridge into a story in which Pixar’s shows its best abilities to continue story lines with ease.

Superheroes are still illegal and after the Incredibles are arrested for attempting to stop the Underminer, Elastigirl is offered a job to help promote super heroism, while her husband Mr. Incredible is left to take care of the kids in a ritzy house given to them by her employer, Winston Deavor. While Elastigirl is out saving the world, Mr. Incredible has difficulties figuring out Dash’s math homework, Violet’s boy crush, and Jack-Jack’s apparent never ending series of hidden powers. The majority of the film is basically split into two sides; one in which we follow Elastigirl and the twists and turns that come her way with her new job, and one in which we follow their family life at home with a baby that becomes much more important than originally thought.

The voice acting is incredibly well done (no pun intended) and cannot go unnoticed. Mr. Incredible is voiced by Craig T. Nelson, while his wife; Elastigirl is voiced by Holly Hunter. Sarah Vowell plays Violet, Huck Milner plays Dash, Eli Fucile plays Jack-Jack, Bob Odenkirk plays Winston Deavor, Catherine Keener plays Evelyn and Samuel L. Jackson plays Frozone.

The very best part of this film is watching Jack-Jack and his powers. He can burst into flames, fade through walls, shoot lasers from his eyes, or grow to an abnormally large size. This will surely please fans of the first film after its hilarious ending, in which we see Jack Jack’s powers unfold as he struggles with the main villain. Jack-Jack’s scenes in “Incredibles 2” are the best reasons to see this film and are without a doubt, the funniest moments of this Pixar sequel.

Pixar has had its bad share of sequels, but this definitely isn’t one of them. “Cars 2” and “Cars 3” are among the worst of them, and “Finding Dory” and Monsters University” never really lived up to fans’ wishes. However, we’ve also been given three “Toy Story” films that are each quite perfect. “Incredibles 2” is one of the much better sequels to come out of this animation company, giving many fans a sigh of relief.

While “Incredibles 2” is an animated kids movie, it’s still not made as much for children as it is for adults. There’s plenty of parenting humor to go around, and the movie acts as a way to please fans of the original (many of which are now in their early adulthood years). While there’s plenty for children to enjoy here, adults can have a great time as well and there may even be more laughter that comes from the parents watching the film than their children. The film acts as a stellar comedy and a constantly thrilling action movie, in addition to acting as a sweet family film for all ages.

Rated PG for action sequences and some brief mild language

Hotel Artemis

Jodie Foster, Jeff Goldblum, Charlie Day, Sofia Boutella, Dave Bautista, and Sterling K. Brown in Hotel Artemis (2018)Written and directed by Drew Pearce, “Hotel Artemis” focuses on a secretly run hospital of the same name in the middle of a war-torn Los Angeles in the year 2028. The constant violence and riots in the streets leave many wounded, only you need to have a membership to get into the hospital. Hotel Artemis is run by who we and other characters only known as The Nurse, played by Jodie Foster. The normally quiet hospital is suddenly having a much busier night now that a group of robbers have come to stay, bringing along with them a stolen pen that is much more valuable than they thought. What it contains belongs to a big name crime boss named Wolf King, played by Jeff Goldblum, which complicates matters and brings together a clash of criminals.

The cast of “Hotel Artemis” is jammed packed with big names. The obvious ones here are Jodie Foster and Jeff Goldblum, two beloved and talented actors. While Goldblum seems to be in just about every movie that is released, Jodie Foster on the other hand has made her first on-screen appearance in five years. She has spent those years writing and directing, and it’s a breath of fresh air to be reminded of her acting talent. Sterling K. Brown plays Waikiki, one of the robbers who ran himself into a much bigger problem than imagined. Charlie Day plays the irritatingly violent and aggressive Acapulco, Sofia Boutella plays the sly and kick-ass Nice, and Dave Bautista plays the angry and protective Everest, the guard and protector of “Hotel Artemis”.

Writer/director Drew Pearce has taken an interesting turn in terms of his filmmaking. He has writing credits for both “Iron Man 3” and “Mission: Impossible- Rogue Nation”. Now he has taken a turn to both writing and directing a film that is meant to be a social commentary. The film does have the action and thrill of those previous films but has still taken a huge turn from his previous works.

While the majority of the characters are criminals, there are plenty of likeable ones. However, that’s one of the very few things that makes “Hotel Artemis” enjoyable. While its nothing terrible or unworthy of attention, the film is still quite forgettable. With such an intriguing plot, one would think that it would be able to get audiences’ attention. The film is quiet fascinating at first, however scene by scene the film seems to let go of its grip as it derails, leaving much more to be desired. There is a great film here somewhere, but the biggest problem that ruined that opportunity is the sloppy screenplay.

“Hotel Artemis” is definitely creative in a world-building sense and with its characters, which can spark memories of the not so critically acclaimed “Suicide Squad”. While this may still be a better version of the failed anti-hero story, there are plenty of holes that leave us wanting something more. However, this isn’t to say there is nothing gratifying about the film. “Hotel Artemis” is comical here and there, thrilling here and there, and even dramatically meaningful here and there. The only problem is that it fails to stay consistent enough for any of that to matter in the long run.

Rated R for violence and language throughout, some sexual references, and brief drug use

Grade: C-

First Reformed

Ethan Hawke in First Reformed (2017)Writer/director Paul Schrader, the mastermind behind the screenplay of Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver”, has continued his exceptional storytelling by writing and directing his newest film “First Reformed”. The film follows the life of Reverend Toller, the priest of a longstanding historic church that the film is named after. Toller has had a harsh life after losing his son in the war along with a divorce that followed, all leading to a severe drinking problem. He then meets a young woman named Mary, whose husband Michael suffers from severe depression due to his hatred of society’s cause of global warming. After Toller’s meeting with him, his life seems to take an even darker turn as we witness the emotional struggle and character arc Reverend Toller goes through.

As a character study, the film is actually quite similar to “Taxi Driver”. In the classic Scorsese film we follow Travis Bickle, a nighttime taxi driver in New York City whose loathing and disgust with the streets of New York City begin the consume him, all while he attempts to rescue an underage prostitute from ruining her life. That same idea is written into this film as we witness the individuals and surroundings in Toller’s life that affect his personality and mental stability. The similarities are uncanny, especially towards the end, but that doesn’t come as a surprise given the name of the talented filmmaker.

Reverend Toller is played superbly by Ethan Hawke (“Boyhood”, “The Before Trilogy”). Hawke seems to be the go-to actor for indie/character study films. “The Before Trilogy” for example shows us the blossoming of a relationship and the emotional struggles that come with falling in love. Through those films we witness a relationship through the ups and downs, just as we observe Toller’s life through its intricacies. Schrader gets a stellar performance out of Hawke, something that clearly isn’t too difficult to achieve, given the underappreciated actor’s success and talent. The notable supporting performance comes from Amanda Seyfried as Mary. As an underrated actress as well, her performance is definitely one of her more ranged ones.

The film has an original directorial sense to it and is shot similarly to “A Ghost Story” with the ends of the shots being cut off leaving two thirds of the screen visible for the audience. Some may find this difficult to adjust to, although through the experience of “First Reformed” its seems to come with ease.

“First Reformed” is quite bleak, even visually. The scenes are darkly lit reflecting the film’s somber message. Just as the lighting, the film itself darkens emotionally as the runtime goes on, like a dimly lit candle slowly burning out. It takes quite some time to figure what the film is saying but giving away the meaning of the film could ruin the plot for those who haven’t seen it. Simply put, it deals with many complicated themes as it’s quite philosophical in one way, and more ambiguous in another. All in all however, it’s mainly about the mental change of a priest who discovers that the world is much darker than he once believed.

Paul Schrader’s newest project is a unique cinematic experience and one that deserves to be seen. With the stellar performances, unique style and plot, the film begs for attention in a world filled with popular action-thrillers and superhero films. Giving this film a chance can open eyes to the uniqueness and talent that goes into some of the best indie films.

Grade: A

Rated R for some disturbing violent images

Hereditary

Toni Collette and Milly Shapiro in Hereditary (2018)Every once in a while, we see advertising for horror films that claim them to be as great as the classics such as “Rosemary’s Baby” or ‘Psycho”. That usually results in eye rolls, but here with Ari Aster’s “Hereditary” the critical acclaim is not messing around.

Toni Collette plays Annie, an avid dollhouse maker whose reclusive and bizarre mother passes away. Annie lives with her husband Steve (Gabriel Byrne), her son Peter (Alex Wolff) and her tongue-clicking daughter Charlie (Milly Shapiro). After a terrifying incident, they then begin to experience the supernatural as their family history is slowly and terrifyingly revealed to them through pain, suffering and terror. The film is as terrifying as it sounds, if not more so. “Hereditary” is one of the most frightening experiences one can have in the theater and will most likely be remembered as a classic, much like how people remember Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” or Roman Polanski’s “Rosemary’s Baby”.

“Hereditary” is writer/director Ari Aster’s debut film. Given that, he will most likely become a well-renowned filmmaker in the future. The unique visual style and camerawork are incredibly unique, giving the film the eerie unnerving feel that Ari Aster was going for. However, what brings to film to its ultimate ability to terrifying audiences, is its imagery and sounds. It’s almost as though the film is assaulting the senses by throwing disturbing imagery and noises as you from left to right. This includes maggots eating a dead body, people on fire, decapitated heads, and disturbing images of faces in the dark corners of a room smiling at you. This is one of the rare horror films that will actually scare pretty much everyone that watches it. Its spine-chilling, unnerving and yet somehow delightfully fun.

It would be a travesty to go on without mentioning the performances. Every performance on screen is done to perfection, due to both the talents of the director and the actors themselves. However, the one performance that clearly stands out here is Toni Collette. Her character has multiple layers and as an audience it is impossible not to find ourselves constantly questioning her sanity and motives. This curve is conveyed perfectly by Collette. Every great film has “that one scene” in which the performance shines in its very best moment. “Hereditary” has that as well, and when you see it, you’ll know. This is without a doubt her best role yet up there with her Oscar nominated role in “The Sixth Sense”. This too should give her some Oscar recognition, but only time will tell if the Academy will make the right choice.

The film is incredibly symbolic in its meaning as well. Just as “Rosemary’s Baby” represents the fears of being a mother, or as “The Shining” represents the psychological effects of being anti-social, “Hereditary” is too very symbolic as it shows the fears of acquiring traits or characteristics of ancestors that we don’t desire to obtain. In addition to that, the film is also about mental illness and family tragedy turning into a nightmare, as going through family tragedy and grief can often feel like a nightmare itself. There are many ways to interpret the film, none of which are wrong. However, it’s the meaning behind the film that makes it so chilling as it digs into everyday human fears and emotions. Rather than just a jump-scare ghost story, the film makes viewers feel something they most likely haven’t before.

Grade: A+

Rated R for horror violence, disturbing images, language, drug use and brief graphic nudity