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Nightmare Fuel / Hereditary

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This right here is pretty much the normal human response to this movie.

There's a very good reason Hereditary has been called "one of the best horror films of 2018."

Be wary: per wiki policy, spoilers are off on Nightmare Fuel pages!

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  • The first trailer alone is goddamn terrifying.
    • It opens with a Wes Anderson-esque dollhouse/cutaway home, a cutesy gag that only further emphasizes the horror coming.
    • The sound design and music are enough to set you on edge.

  • The first remotely supernatural scene. Annie leaves her workshop, turns out the light...and sees her dead mother standing in the darkness. It happens with neither a Scare Chord nor dramatic camera zoom. Ellen is just...there, silent and unmoving, smiling at her daughter from the shadows. And when the lights are flipped on, she's simply gone again, like mistaking a coat rack for a person in the dark.
    • Is this supernatural, or a by-product of Annie's mental health issues? The ambiguity alone is disturbing.
  • What happens 30 minutes into the film has become such a phenomenon for being immensely disturbing that a sheer mention of the words "car scene" is enough to send chills down the spine of many. Peter is speeding down the highway from the party he was told to take Charlie to; she ate nuts, she's having an allergic reaction, and he's high. She rolls down her window to get some air, putting her head directly in the path of an oncoming pole, and...bang. In one instantaneous moment, audiences were clued into the fact that they were not watching their grandma's horror movie, but something much, much darker.
    • After the impact, the scene literally grinds to a halt as Peter slams the brakes, then sits in complete Stunned Silence as the camera holds on his face. He can only muster the wherewithal to drive home, park the car, and climb into bed fully clothed.
      • The horrific shot of Charlie's severed head lying on the side of the road, covered in ants, with Annie's agonized screaming in the background. It's both horrific and heart-wrenching to listen to.
      • It tends to be common to drum up hype for a horror movie by saying people walked out. But in this movie's case? They were not kidding. It actually did happen to various audience members.
      • Worse? We listen on with the emotionally-numb Peter to Annie's reaction in real time. There's strong dread built up by hearing her cheerfully converse with Steve and walk to her car, making her inevitable discovery and her following screams of despair and grief all the more gut-wrenching.
  • Annie tearfully confessing to Joan that, during a sleepwalking episode, she once covered her children in lighter fluid and was preparing to set them on fire. She woke up at the striking of the match.
  • Early on, we see a shot of Peter smoking from outside, with a second person's breath coming from off screen.
  • The hair-raising close-up of Peter’s sleeping body covered in ants. The shot is so close and detailed that you can see them bubbling out of his mouth. Followed by Annie’s heartbreaking reveal that she tried to abort Peter multiple times before he was born. The scene has the fluidity and logic of a nightmare...which it in fact turns out to be.
    • When Annie reveals her previous attempts to abort him, Peter tearfully keeps exclaiming "You tried to kill me!" and is suddenly dripping with paint thinner. Cut back to Annie, who's covered with it as well. A match is lit off-screen and ignites Peter, startling Annie awake. Thank God it was just a nightmare.
  • One evening, Peter wakes up in the middle of the night after hearing Charlie’s tongue click and sees what appears to be Charlie sitting in the corner facing away from him, but is really just a jacket hanging over a chair.
    • Another evening, he hallucinates his sister standing in the darkness and her head falling off, which is really just a ball. Then suddenly, two hands come through his bed frame and try to rip his head off.
  • The seance. Charlie seemingly possesses Annie, repeatedly exclaiming how terrified and confused she is. Peter cries and screams for his mother to stop. She regains her senses after Steve douses her with water.
    • The ambiguity of this scene enhances the terror, especially when considering that dissociative identity disorder runs in Annie's family. Is she actually possessed? Is she having an episode? Both? A great deal of the terror comes from not just watching the actual event, but trying to figure out just what in the world is happening to these people.
  • Annie stumbling upon the bloated, headless corpse of her mother in her attic.
  • Peter's possession at school is way more disturbing than the trailer made it look. His body and face look twisted before he starts smashing his head against his desk.
  • Damn near everything about the last 20 minutes or so. From Steve catching fire, to Annie being possessed and crawling over the walls, and her actually decapitating herself with a wire. THEN after Peter is possessed by Paimon, he goes to the treehouse to find the cult, where they mounted Charlie's heavily decomposed head onto a statue.
    • Throughout the film, the passage of time is shown with a shot of the exterior of the house hard-cutting from day to night. In the last of these cuts there are suddenly dozens of naked people standing around the house.
    • Before the possessed Annie chases Peter through the house, the latter turns around and sees a naked cult member standing in a dark closet, silently staring at him with a bone-chilling smile. Remember him? He's the same man that smiled at Charlie during the opening funeral scene.
  • The whole movie reeks of all kinds of Adult Fear, but especially in regards to older siblings. Anyone with little brothers or sisters will probably feel nauseated by Peter's reaction in the car immediately after the accident. He essentially shuts down — his face slowly becomes a mask of pain — and can only shed a single tear.
    • Following this we see Peter slowly drive home in shock and go to bed, leaving the body in the car for someone else to find, Chappaquiddick-style. However, it's hard not to feel empathy for him and his terror. How would you react, as a teenager, having inadvertently killed your sister? Would you have this Schrodinger's Cat argument with yourself — "if I don't look back at her, it's like she's not dead" (hinted at later when Peter's in class and sees a vision of the rear-view mirror for a second)? Would you get out of the car, collect her decapitated smashed-in head, take it to...the hospital? The police? The funeral home? Your PARENTS? The only thing worse than admitting she's dead to himself is telling his parents - how the hell do you wake them up and tell them what happened? He's living in a nightmare so he gets into bed and doesn't even sleep, hoping he'll wake up, and he never does, not even when he hears his mother's blood-curdling screams upon finding the headless body.
  • Towards the end of the movie, after Steve is dead and Annie has been possessed, a nightmare wakes Peter up. As he slowly rises, the camera holds on him for a while, which gives the audience plenty of time to realize Annie is crouched in the corner of his bedroom ceiling holding completely still. The anticipation builds for her to simply attack, but she waits at the perfect opportunity. That's what makes this scene all the more frightening.
    • When Peter starts to turn towards where we know she is, we instead see her scuttle away behind him in mid-air, completely silently.
  • Upon re-watch, the clues as to the ultimate reasons behind the terrible events happening to the Grahams are even more starkly apparent. It's entirely possible and very likely that Annie's family was truly mentally ill. Combine that with the machinations of the cult, and they truly had no chance. It's hard enough raising a family and going about your life while dealing with all that illness and trauma, then imagine if a truly evil group of people systematically engineered you and your family's demise for worldly riches and the favor of an Eldritch Abomination. A truly nightmarish scenario.
  • There's a 3-hour cut with an alternate ending that was deemed too much for audiences. Considering the already disturbing scenes that are still present in the film, what could this cut have that's even more horrifying?
    • Purportedly, this cut had Peter gouging his own eyes out, completing the Oedipus Rex parallel hinted at by the photo of Peter found in the attic with his eyes cut out. This proved too much for test audiences, though.
  • There's a very easy to miss detail in the final scene: when the camera slowly pans over the headless corpses of Ellen and Annie after Peter is crowned, the middle finger of Annie's right hand twitches minutely.
    • Even more disturbing - when he first climbs into the attic, they're "bowing" to the mannequin with Charlie's head on it. But after he's crowned, they're bowing towards him, with no indication that the cult members moved them. As if even lacking a motherfucking head isn't enough to free them from Paimon's spell.
    Joan: Oh, hey, hey, hey. It's alright. Charlie, you're alright, now. You... are Paimon. One of the eight kings of Hell. We have looked to the northwest and called you in. We've corrected your first female body and give you now this healthy male host. We reject the trinity and pray devoutly to you, Great Paimon. Give us your knowledge of all secret things, bring us honor, wealth, and good familiars. Bind all men to our will as we have bound ourselves for now and ever to yours. Hail, Paimon! HAIL, PAIMON! HAIL, PAIMON! HAIL!
  • The dinner scene after Charlie's death. The tension between Annie, Steve, and Peter is already high considering the circumstances, but the sudden lash of anger from Annie when Peter swears at her is enough to give people a nasty scare.
    Annie: Don't you swear at me, you little shit! Don't you ever raise your voice at me! I am your mother! You understand? All I do is worry and slave and defend you, and I get back is that...fucking face on your face! So full of disdain and resentment and always so annoyed! Well, now your sister is dead! And I know you miss her...and I know it was an accident, and I know you're in pain and I wish I could take that away for you. I wish I could shield you from the knowledge that you did what you did! But your sister is dead! She's gone forever! And what waste...if it could've maybe brought us together, or something, if you could've just said "I'm sorry", or faced up to what happened. Maybe then we could do something with this. But you can't take responsibility for anything! So now, I can't accept. And I can't forgive. Because...BECAUSE NOBODY ADMITS ANYTHING THEY'VE DONE!


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