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YMMV / Hereditary

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  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • How much did Charlie know about the plot? Although a child (and therefore having limited responsibility), did she always know that she and her brother were both guaranteed to die, and that her mother and father were almost guaranteed to do so too? So is she actually happy to be back in Peter's body, or something else entirely?
    • It's not totally clear how much of Paimon's host is left after the possession. Given that Joan had to tell Charlie (as Peter) that he was Paimon it's quite possible a good deal is left, which could ultimately be bad news for the worshippers who just murdered his entire family.
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    • How much, if any, of Joan's story is true? Did her son and grandson really die in an accident? Were they killed by the cult? Or did they never exist at all and it was simply a sob story Joan thought up to get Annie to trust her?
    • Big debates in regards to the movie are who really was at fault for Charlie's death? There are debates on Annie being at fault due to her forcing Peter (and Charlie, mind you, who voiced concern that she didn't want to go) while some point at Peter not being responsible in taking care of his sister. Or, if you're going by the interpretation that Charlie was aware of the whole plot, did she deliberately commit suicide?
    • Some fans have gone as far as believing that the supernatural events of the second half of the film are merely hallucinations of Annie and/or Peter, who suffered a mental breakdown after Charlie's death and invented the cult in order to have a big, clear villain to blame for something that really was just a senseless accident.
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    • In another strange sense, there's an interpretation that the entire film is actually more about Charlie actually becoming a trans boy and the entire film is an allegory to how Charlie starts to transition (becoming Peter), her family rejects it, and finds happiness with others. Although this theory is surprisingly small and has become known through youtuber Nyx Fears (as implied she made the theory due to her own transitioning).
  • Angst Aversion: A child gets decapitated in the first hour of the movie, and it actually does nothing but get worse from that point afterwards. Unless you're a fan of watching a family of mostly decent people fall apart in painfully realistic portrayals of grief that drives them to do horrible things to each other and drags them down to a dark place from which there is no escape but death, it can be a pretty difficult movie to enjoy.
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  • Award Snub: Hoo boy. Despite unanimous critical praise for her performance, Toni Collette was not nominated at the Oscars or the Golden Globes, nor was her equally acclaimed supporting cast, and the movie wasn't nominated in any other categories, either. This was especially irritating for some because the field of actual Oscar nominees at the time was considered unusually weak, with a number of movies that received highly mixed reviews but were seemingly nominated anyway just for having more palatable subject matter. Many online reviewers opined that this film would quite possibly have swept the awards if it was anything but an R-rated horror film.
  • Awesome Music:
    • Colin Stetson's score is wonderfully effective and a consistently praised element of the film's atmosphere, especially in pieces like "Funeral" and the climactic finale "Reborn".
    • The end credits use a cover of "Both Sides Now" by Judy Collins.
  • Critical Dissonance: The film is highly acclaimed among critics, but has polarized general audiences (with a D+ Cinemascore and a 66% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes). Like previous horror films distributed by A24, this may be due to Misaimed Marketing.
  • Esoteric Happy Ending: Peter being possessed by Paimon and worshiped by the cult is depicted as a oddly triumphant moment free of the sense of dread felt throughout every moment of the film leading up to that final scene. This may be deliberate Mood Dissonance to heighten the creep factor, though.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • Paimon is in fact a demon of real-life mythology, and the cult's symbol is a real sigil that can supposedly be used to invoke him. Traditionally, he's depicted with a male body but a female head, which may be why decapitating women seems to have ritual significance to the cult. There is one small error, though - Joan describes Paimon as one of the eight Kings of Hell, but in real-world demonology, there are nine. (But does that really make much of a difference? Though it could be a mix-up with the Book of Abramelin, where he's one of the eight dukes.)
    • Peter's literature class discusses two pieces of Greek mythology, Euripides's Heracles and the death of Iphigenia, but we don't hear much of the actual discussion. If you're familiar with the source material, you know that both are about parents killing their children.
    • Paimon's appearance in the Ars Goetia is described as being preceded by loud trumpeting, and his name is a word from an unknown language that describes a "tinkling noise." Both Annie and Steve question the language the seance chant is written in, and the music playing during the finale has loud trumpeting and a tinkling noise throughout.
  • He Really Can Act: Alex Wolff has proven he can act before in films like Patriots Day, but this really one that he can flex his acting chops here in terms of the varying shades of grief, despair and horror he puts on display here.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • Charlie's tongue clicking has become popular with viewers, to the point in which it's been reported audiences have been doing that during screenings of the film (which can make it double as annoying for those who complained audiences were tongue clicking every few seconds during the most suspenseful scenes).
    • HAIL PAIMON!note 
    • "Reborn", the score used during the film's ending, gained popularity from its later use in TikTok sketches, where its blaring horns are used to punctuate surreal or unexpected twists.
  • Misaimed Marketing: Once again, A24 puts out a slow-burning horror film marketed as a relentless scarefest, resulting in general audiences expecting something much more conventional being pissed off.
  • Narm:
    • Although Alex Wolff generally delivers a great performance, some viewers have criticized the childish way he cries in some scenes. Of course, his character Peter is only 16, and the kinds of situations he finds himself in would make make almost anyone regress. It's also possibly an effect of being possessed by Paimon, who still believes he's Charlie, a 13-year-old girl.
    • Annie's decapitated body floating up into the tree house can come off as goofy to some people.
    • Annie leaving Peter's room by crawling in the air looks more like she's doggy-paddling.
    • The scene where we hear nothing but Annie's screams and cries after finding Charlie's corpse is just a tad too long and overblown. Surely justified, as it must be horrific going down to your car thinking nothing bad and suddenly finding the headless corpse of your daughter, but the immediate cuts to the rotting head and then to the funeral imply that she was screaming like this for days without interruption.
    • Although Annie and Peter's argument at the dinner table after Charlie's death is mostly very effective, the line "that fucking face on your face" does ruin the mood just a bit. However, it is also the kind of thing someone would say when flustered and angry, so it's justified.
    • The movie ends with Peter wearing a Burger King-esque paper crown while surrounded by naked, prostrating cultists yelling "HAIL PAIMON!" It definitely got a laugh out of some people.
  • Narrowed It Down to the Guy I Recognize: Let's just say that fans of Margaret Atwood won't be surprised when Aunt Lydia turns out to be Evil All Along.
  • Nausea Fuel: The image of Peter's head completely covered in ants to the extent that they're bubbling out of his mouth. Even worse? A picture exists of the Peter doll the filmmakers used, still swarmed with ants, in full daylight.
  • Signature Scene: Either the dinner scene where Annie and Peter argue or Charlie's decapitation.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • Some viewers found the first half of the film, which focuses on realistic forms of horror such as grappling with the fact that your family has a history of severe mental illness or experiencing the Death of a Child, to be far stronger, and regard the later reveal that these seemingly everyday tragedies were really masterminded by an evil cult to be borderline silly.
    • The convoluted steps of the summoning ritual is fairly ridiculous: "Oh shit, our demon king is livid because we put him into the wrong body. Here's what we need to do: After our leader dies, we'll smuggle her decaying body into the host's attic and secretly carve symbols throughout their house, without any of the family noticing. Then we'll mark a specific telephone pole with the symbol and hope that either demonic intervention or incredible coincidences lead to the host getting decapitated on that pole. Then we'll trick the host's mother into summoning Paimon back from hell and cursing her son, hoping that she never tries to find out what the words she's saying actually mean. Then we'll break back into her home and watch as the demon kills the whole family, including the host. Then all we'll have to do is collect all the body parts, arrange them in a fancy altar, strip down naked in a treehouse, and then... HAIL PAIMON!"
    • Most of the movie could be leading up to a number of different explanations for what's happening ranging from Ellen and/or Charlie's ghosts causing all the trouble, to Annie just being crazy, to it all being in their heads. These all could be viable explanations and the last third of the movie is mostly just narrowing down what's really happening.
  • Too Bleak, Stopped Caring: The film has this problem for the opposite reason as most horror films: not because the characters are poorly acted, boring, or just plain detestable so that you don't care or outright cheer on what happens to them, but because they're a realistic and fairly sympathetic ordinary suburban family - which makes what happens to them even less fun to watch. For a significant number of people, the movie had already over this line after a child gets decapitated in a horrible car accident 45 minutes in, the fact that things only proceed to get worse from that point onward. Aster stated that one of his intents with the film was to create a scenario in which the audience would feel real sympathy for the sort of characters that would be nameless, faceless Sacrificial Lambs in any other horror movie. Given the exceedingly polarized reaction to the film, the argument can definitely be made that he succeeded a bit too well.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?: The film has been interpreted as a supernatural allegory for late-2000s-2010s economic woes and generational conflict. Ellen, an elderly woman, helped machinate the destruction of her children and grandchildren's lives so that her band of similarly-aged friends could enjoy wealth and worldly pleasures. They suffer no punishment for their actions whatsoever, because they've had things rigged in their favor for decades.
  • Win the Crowd: The trailer's emphasis on actual frightening imagery over cheap jump scares won it many an audience-goer. Being produced by A24 (who've made other acclaimed films like The VVitch) certainly also helped the film open to such critical and commercial success.
  • Woobie Family: The Graham family. All of them.
    • Peter. The kid's mental and emotional breakdown over the course of the film after accidentally causing Charlie's death is rough to watch.
    • Steve. The Only Sane Man in the Graham family, he loses his daughter in an accident that his son inadvertently caused. Then the relationship between his wife and son deteriorates, and Steve is forced to protect him from her once the cult begins influencing her. He fails ultimately, and ends up burning to death in his own living room.
    • Annie. Her reaction to the death of her daughter and the fact that her son inadvertently played a part in it is absolutely gut-wrenching. And then she finds out that her mother, and her friend, Joan, both played a part in engineering the downfall of her family and the death of Charlie, all to summon the Demon King Paimon for their own selfish desires.
    • And finally, Charlie. She's chosen as the vessel for King Paimon since her birth, and grows up with the soul with a demon against her will. Because the demon is dissatisfied with having a female host, the cult conspires to have Charlie brutally killed in a freak accident to appease King Paimon. After her horrible death, her spirit is brought back during a seance, absolutely confused and terrified of what has happened to her.


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