By David Baldwin for Mr. Will Wong
“I wanted the Film to feel evil.”
It is a rather innocuous quote, but one that perfectly describes the aura around Ari Aster’s critically-acclaimed Film Hereditary. The first-time feature Writer/Director has received unanimous praise out of both Sundance and SXSW for his Tale of a grieving family who, in the wake of their matriarch’s death, discover nightmarish secrets relating to their ancestry. Aster presented the Film at TIFF Bell Lightbox on Wednesday evening – the first Canadian public screening – and followed with a Q&A with the George Stroumboulopoulos.
And when your Film is being touted on posters as the “scariest Film since The Exorcist”, you know the audience is in for something special.
The less said about the shocks and surprises found within Hereditary, the better. For Aster, he just wanted to “make a Movie about grief and trauma.” But having watched various Oscar-type movies during his schooling at AFI and Sundance, he knew he had to make something more unique and outside the box: “It’s in me to see [those kinds of movies] and think, what’s the worst thing I can do here?” He doubled down by suggesting the whole point of Hereditary was to “make a Film that didn’t let people off the hook” for what they were involved with, suggesting not so-subtly that “everything that’s coming is inevitable.”
Another important element of Aster’s discussion with Strombo was regarding the Film’s Sound Design. Much of the sounds came directly off the pages of Aster’s Script, but his Sound Team was determined to use them in radically different ways. “We played a lot with using different speakers,” Aster says, using them to express not just the sounds on-screen, but the different emotions and feelings of the characters. He stressed that some effects – including mouth clicking that becomes progressively more horrifying – were designed to be “played in different parts of the room” at all times. As Aster recalled, listening on a conventional stereo system completely ruined the terrifying effects he was going for (and in turn, Colin Stetson’s enigmatic Score), remarking that he “wanted this sub base thing that you feel in your guts more than you hear it.”
But no matter where the conversation went (including a brief mention of how proud he was of Lead Actress Toni Collette’s “kamikaze” performance), Aster kept circling back to the feeling he was trying to evoke through every twisted frame of Hereditary. “I wanted to test your patience,” he told the packed audience, noting that “As the [characters] were suffering, the Movie is smiling.” And while he describes the Film as “sinister” and “mean-spirited”, he continues to be both shocked and delighted at the acclaim the Film keeps receiving – he just assumed he was “making a really alienating movie that made people feel bad.”
I will save my full thoughts on Hereditary for my upcoming Review but will note that I do not remember the last time I was so unsettled and unnerved watching a Movie. So skip the Trailers and start mentally preparing yourself – you will not want to miss out on this future Horror classic.
Elevation Pictures release HEREDITARY on June 8, 2018.
(Photo credit: David Baldwin)
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