2018 is seemingly a great year for horror. Yes, we got some major disappointments (“Winchester”), but we also got some pleasant surprises (“A Quiet Place”) and we’re going to get some more exciting stuff this fall: Luca Guadagnino’s re-imagining of Argento’s “Suspiria” and David Gordon Green’s version of “Halloween”, scored by no other than legend John Carpenter himself.
While we will wait and see how much hype will be around those films, there’s no doubt that the most hyped horror of the year so far is “Hereditary”, a Sundance breakout that has been lauded as a modern masterpiece of the genre. Critics fell in love with it as did many horror fans or cinema fans in general.
If you loved what you saw in Hereditary – or at least, even if you liked the most part or some parts of it – then you may like to check out the following films for several reasons: to find other strong family dramas about grief, or other cult-related horror films or just similar films in atmosphere.
10. The Sixth Sense (1999)
“Hereditary” star Toni Collette gets some of the best reviews of her career for her outstanding work in the film. The Australian actress is no stranger to the horror genre, previously appearing in horror films such as the underrated Christmas flick “Krampus” (2015), an entertaining remake of “Fright Night” (2011) and cultural phenomenon of its time, “The Sixth Sense” which brought her first and (so far) the only Oscar nomination.
Some critics even called her work in “Hereditary” as a “companion piece to her performance in The Sixth Sense”. Haley Joel Osment stole some of her buzz in the film which led her performance to be overlooked by some but fortunately not by the Academy. We’ll see if her performance in “Hereditary” will get enough of awards love or not but until that time, fans may give “The Sixth Sense” a re-watch and enjoy her brilliant work here again.
Her scene in the car with Osment where he tells her how he interacts with his grandmother is one of the most touching scenes of the film, and the scene benefits tremendously from Toni’s layered acting.
The movie is still popular as it was back in time and thanks to the success of “Split”, liking Shymalan has become cool again but if you haven’t seen it yet, and believe me, it gets referenced or parodied in popular culture so often that you may think you have seen it without seeing it, you should check it out. Even if someone spoiled that famous twist for you, it doesn’t matter – there are many other things that make it such a great ride.
9. Ordinary People (1980)
It’s widely reported in media that some audience members didn’t like the second part of “Hereditary” where, let’s say without spoiling, the story takes a more sinister turn. It was always there actually, it was obvious what’s coming but it doesn’t become evident until you analyze the film after the ending. So some audience members feel a bit cheated.
While many fans enjoyed finding all the little details and clues in the first half that led us to that surprising and creepy ending, some were disappointed about how the events turned out. If you rather prefer the family drama side of the movie and would like to see more similar stuff, then it’s hard to find a better choice to watch than Robert Redford’s “Ordinary People”.
Its Oscar win for Best Picture may have made “Raging Bull” fans little angry back in time and even it still does but it won’t change the fact that “Ordinary People” also remains as a great achievement in cinema and one of the most important and well-known works on themes such as grief, depression, self-blaming and family tragedies.
What makes it distinctively different than previous dramas that it has such a captivating, engaging tone. Redford’s directing is not showy but it’s full of skill hidden in details and the script is very honest on its portrayal of the characters which helped to turn the film into such timeless classic.
Its influence is also obvious on European cinema, since many festival hits with similar premise like “The Son’s Room” (2001) and “Louder than Bombs” (2015, co-starring “Hereditary” star Gabriel Byrne in a remarkable performance by the way) have been compared to it. The people may be ordinary here, but the film is certainly extraordinary.
8. The House of the Devil (2006)
The word “divisive” often comes out when we look at the recent articles on the film ‘Hereditary’ which is understandable. Most of the arthouse genre hits of recent years had been divisive.
For example, we witnessed similar reactions to another A24 horror film “The Witch” last year when it divided audience as soon as it opened wide and got a very low Cinemascore. Ti West is one of those directors who made a name for himself in genre cinema and is certainly known for dividing audiences. He has devoted fans, critics often champion his work, but his films may get some mixed reception from the general audience.
“The House of the Devil” is probably his signature work, combines lots of his trademarks and even though it will work better for nostalgia fans, thanks to its old school cinematography and atmosphere, some “Hereditary” fans may enjoy the slow-burn nature and that scary ending. If you don’t have enough of patience and you’re not really big on atmospheres in horror films, then you may very well skip it.
The film is also notable for being one of Greta Gerwig’s early roles. Since then she established herself as an Oscar-nominated writer-director of “Lady Bird” and award-winning actress of wide range of (mostly independent) films and even though she’s a supporting character, she gets some really memorable moments in at least two scenes of the film.
7. The Changeling (1980)
The beauty and uniqueness of the horror genre is that you can tell bleaker, more uncompromising stories as much as you want. Horror directors often wondered about the questions regarding death, which is why horror films sometimes can actually help us to cope with loss and grief, make us to think about those feelings and questioning it. “Hereditary” does an amazing job at exploring the family trauma, the feeling of grief and dealing with loss.
Through the years some well-made horror films recognized the devastating effect of losing a loved one. Sometimes they resembled our own experiences of loss and emotional displacement. “The Changeling” is one of those films, It deals with the subject of grief and delivers the scares along the way.
This slightly underrated Canadian haunted house tale stars George C. Scott as a composer from New York City who decides move to Seattle after the tragic loss of his family in a traffic accident. He rents a large Victorian-era mansion, a little because his grief attracts him there and soon strange events follow.
If you love ghost stories, haunted house tales, chilly atmosphere, impressive locations, George C. Scott’s talent and of course, horror films about grief, then “The Changeling” is the one you shouldn’t miss.
6. In the Bedroom (2001)
“Hereditary” director Ari Aster mentioned “In the Bedroom” as an influence on his film and his work in general. He also showed the film to his crew before the filming.
While unfortunately, we don’t hear of the film enough recently, “In the Bedroom” is actually one of the best reviewed dramas of 21st century and features some incredibly strong performances from its cast including Tom Wilkinson, Sissy Spacek (whose horror classic “Carrie” is also an influence on Aster’s work, as is most of De Palma’s filmography) and Marisa Tomei.
As for why it was such a strong influence on Aster and his film, saying it’s about grief and family relations wouldn’t be enough. It’s better to see it for yourself because there’s one particular detail that there’s almost no way to explain without giving away some spoilers but again, just like “Ordinary People”, this film is also for mostly those who rather preferred the family drama part of the film rather than the horror side but in general, it doesn’t matter.
It’s a very strong piece of cinema, such expertly crafted film with carefully constructed narrative and psychological depth which will haunt you forever. It’ll leave you wonder why Todd Field just doesn’t work more.