Toni Collette is Brilliant in Heart-Stopping Horror Hereditary

This post is a part of our New Voices Section.

Written by Carla Renata.

After watching Stephen King’s Carrie, I vowed to never again watch a horror flick. Numerous nights on end are spent with lights on and one eye struggling to stay open at best.  At the urging of a fellow critic, I took a chance and screened Hereditary. Why?  Two of my favs Gabriel Byrne and Toni Collette were in it AND produced it, so I figured it wouldn’t be too bad.  WRONG! That nightlight has been on full-time duty for the last 24-hours.

With his feature debut Ari Aster and a cast led by Collette and Byrne, let audiences experience a fly on the wall view as the family matriarch becomes unhinged with a chilling, malevolent reality that will have you peeping through your hand covered eyes from the fear and anticipation of it all. “Wanted to do my version of Janet Leigh stepping into the shower,” says Aster in reference to Psycho.

Hereditary opens with an eery overview of Annie’s workroom featuring dozens of figurines resembling real life events from her family. Shortly thereafter, we see the entire family struggle to come with the loss of  Annie’s Mom –  Ellen Leigh and how that event ultimately affects Annie, her husband Steve and kids Peter and Charlie.

To say that Toni Collette (Annie) is brilliant is a mild understatement.  She is simply stupendous in every sense of the word.  It’s like she took every character inhabited from The Sixth Sense, Little Miss Sunshine right through United States of Tara to make Annie a full fledge cuckoo-for-cocoa-puffs mama bear to the 100th power.  The axis on which she spins this character is dizzying and complicated with very little room for empathy.

Alex Wolff (Peter), Gabriel Byrne (Steve), Milly Shapiro (Charlie) and Ann Dowd (Joan) equally bring it only enhancing what Collette’s character is exuding throughout the film.

The whole film comes together with a musical score meticulously mixed and composed of horns by saxophonist Colin Stetson.  Based on the ginormous success of Get Out this past awards season, I think it’s safe to say that Hereditary and Quiet Place will be duking it out while awards are being discussed for 2019.

Hereditary is a house of horrors rollercoaster ride into what happens when bad things happen to good people.


As a member of the (AAFCA) African-American Film Critic’s Association(LAOFCS) Los Angeles Online Film Critic’s Association you can catch Carla Renata’s reviews on www.AAFCA.comBlack Tomatoes– a brand new film review show on Black Hollywood Live alongside Scott Menzel and owned by Emmy Winner Maria Menounos and Keven Undergaro. Of course, her ongoing reviews can be seen at

Her commentary has been featured on NPR (Weekend All Things Considered), Collider, Popcorn Talk, AfterbuzzTV, Black Hollywood Live,,, a Los Angeles Times feature revolving around film critics of color and TCM (Turner Classic Movies) “Spotlight” series sponsored by AAFCA.

@TheCurvyCritic on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook 


Subscribe to our newsletter


Maltin tee on TeePublic


Maltin on Movies podcast


Past podcasts


Maltin On Movies Patreon


Leonard Maltin appearances and booking


May 2024