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On digital: Hereditary / Summer 1993

On digital: Hereditary / Summer 1993

October 07
05:24 2018

If it’s not one thing, it’s your mother — and that goes doubly in horror movies.

In Ari Aster’s frighteningly good debut Hereditary Toni Collette delivers a masterclass in anguish as a woman sent through more shades of hell than Dante after the death of her mother.

It begins more Book of Job than Revelation as a series of traumatic events are visited on Annie, her husband and children. Is it mere misfortune? Malign forces? Or somehow all of Annie’s own doing?

Aster is already a master manipulator, filling his film with an array of allusions — Magick, Greek mythology, mental illness — and then cannily leaving enough space for viewers to insert their own nightmarish possibilities. It’s a harrowing ride from start to finish, only slightly spoiled by a final sequence that exorcises too much ambiguity.

Sometimes questions are more satisfying than answers. ★★★★☆

Paternal legacy is also at the centre of a very different film, the understated Catalan drama Summer 1993.

With an evocative rural atmosphere and a little girl at its centre, its obvious antecedents are Spanish classics The Spirit of the Beehive and Cría Cuervos.

But here the catalysing trauma is not civil war but Aids as orphaned six-year-old Frida is sent to live with her young aunt and uncle in the country, and struggles to adjust.

Carla Simón, another debutante, unfolds her film with great care and delicacy, offering a hazy child’s-eye-view in which much is left unsaid and understood, but everything is felt. ★★★★☆

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