If you like scary movies with some family drama thrown in, then chances are, you enjoyed watching Hereditary. Well, perhaps enjoyed is the wrong word: after premiering at Sundance in January 2018, the Ari Aster-directed film has been seriously freaking out audiences. At first glance, the movie appears to be about Annie Graham (Toni Collete), her children Peter (Alex Wolff) and Charlie (Milly Shapiro), her husband (Gabriel Byrne), and their collective grief after the death of her mother and their grandmother. By the film's closing credits, we learn that Annie's mom was literally part of a club that loves Paimon, a demon who wants to find a male human (and child) host. This movie brings up a lot of questions. Here are the 10 biggest questions in Hereditary along with the answers.
10. Is Annie Trying To Stop Paimon When She's Sleepwalking?
By the end of Hereditary, we know that the host not only wants a human but a male one, which is why it moves from Charlie to Peter. During Ari Aster's Reddit AMA, someone asked what Annie is trying to do when she's sleepwalking. The viewer mentioned that it seems like she's trying to stop Paimon from getting to her kids and changing the host from Charlie to Peter.
The director answered, "Annie knows on some buried, suppressed level that her life is not her own, and she is the victim of unthinkable, Machiavellian scheming by her mother" and she's "in a kind of denial." He added that when she's asleep, she can defend her family: "She tried to set fire to her children to prevent the "resurrection of Paimon," as you say."
9. What's Up With Charlie's Clicking Sound?
Charlie stole our hearts from the beginning of Hereditary (if we can really say that about such a creepy character) because while she was a loner who rarely spoke and had some violent tendencies, we felt for her. One thing that everyone notices about this character right away is that she makes a frequent clicking sound. It's definitely strange and haunting.
Why does she do this? According to NME, it's connected to Paimon and it's also a sound that Peter makes once the host is moved over to him: "The click is Paimon’s tick, hence why Peter does it later."
8. Did Annie's Mother Procreate Because Of Paimon?
Did you watch Hereditary and think, "What a messed up family"? If you did, you most likely thought about Annie's mother and the kids' grandmother and realized that no character had anything nice to say about her.
In an interview with Variety, Ari Aster gives answers to several questions that anyone who has watched the movie has. When the reporter asks if Annie's mother actually only procreated because of Paimon and the cult surrounding him, the Hereditary director says that was the case. He said, "That’s pretty much what is suggested. If you listen to Annie’s speech at the group therapy, there are a lot of keys in her monologue as to what came before this and how far back this goes."
7. Is Charlie's Death Connected To The Cult?
Charlie met an unfortunate end when, while her brother drove them home from a party, she stuck her head out the car window... only to be beheaded by a pole. Ouch (we can say that again). It's just as painful to watch Annie grieve her daughter (although Toni Collete gives an incredible performance).
Was Charlie's death connected to the cult of Paimon? That's a question that we have, and NME says yes: "You might have missed it, but the cult sigil was etched in the telegraph poll that did a Marie Antoinette on poor Charlie." The article also says, "grandma’s corpse has had the head removed too."
6. Why Does Annie Light Her Daughter's Sketchbook On Fire?
Is Annie trying to prevent the evil that is clearly in her house from getting to her family? In one scene, she tries to light her daughter's sketchbook on fire, but as we know, she couldn't prevent anything from happening at all.
Ari Aster told Variety, the family doesn't have "free will" and she's helpless. He said, "Ultimately, it’s not her choice to make. She thinks there’s a design here and she can end things if she sacrifices herself. But there’s no design and there are no rules. There is a malicious logic at play."
5. Why Is There Literally Writing On The House's Walls?
When we hear the phrase "the writing is on the wall" we assume that means that something obvious is about to occur. When writing is literally on a wall of a house in a horror film, we're confident that it means something, and we're going to want the answer to our question.
This was another question that was brought up in the Reddit AMA with the Hereditary director and he has a smart answer for it: "Those are isolated pieces of an invocation spell that is suggested to be written all over the house. We only see three of these in the film, but there are many more (probably written behind furniture or otherwise hidden)."
4. Was Charlie Ever Real Or Was She Always Paimon?
The test of a great horror movie is definitely the ending. The final moments are a really big deal. If it doesn't seem logical, there aren't enough explanations, or if there is a crazy twist that doesn't seem earned, audiences aren't going to be thrilled.
The Variety reporter asked Aster this, and it's something that anyone who has watched the horror film has wondered. Since we know that Charlie was a human host for Paimon, does that mean that Charlie wasn't ever real?
Aster said, "From the moment she’s born. I mean, there’s a girl that was displaced, but she was displaced from the very beginning."
3. What About Annie's Husband/Charlie And Peter's Dad?
Did we watch this movie and wonder, "Why wouldn't Paimon posses the dad?" After all, he's a male, and if Paimon needed a male host, then that would make sense, and it seems like he would go for the character played by Gabriel Bryne.
NME answers this question in a way that seems logical: "It’s not totally clear, but the film’s title suggests the host needed to be a member of the bloodline of ‘Queen Leigh’, as her followers called her. Dad married in." (And we thought that awkward family dinners were all that you got when you married into a family.)
2. Was Ann Dowd And The Cult Spying On The Family?
A staple storyline of many horror films is feeling like a serial killer, spectral figure, demon, or otherwise creepy creature is spying on the main characters. It can be used in such a way that contributes to the overall campy tone, or, in the case of a film like Hereditary, it's used smartly.
When a Yahoo reporter asked Aster if Ann Dowd and the cult was spying on the family, Aster said, "There is an answer and you are right. The audience is supposed to suspect that it might be Annie, but it is the cult of which Ann Dowd is a very significant part. But you are supposed to feel through the film that there are people on the periphery that are watching this family and are hovering just outside."
1. Is The Ending Meant To Be Interpreted Literally Or Metaphorically?
By the time that the end credits of Hereditary roll, we're stunned by the incredible film that we have just watched. The storyline, tone, and characters are brilliantly crafted and the ending is satisfying.
A final question that audiences have is, are we supposed to interpret the ending of the film literally, or is it a metaphor?
According to Gamespot, the director says it's literal: "Aster confirmed that the ending is meant to be viewed literally, not simply as a metaphor for mental deterioration or as some sort of delusion on the characters' part." The publication quoted him as saying, "It is literal. Nobody likes the 'It was all a dream' thing."
Who's up for another viewing of Hereditary?
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