With a near perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes, Hereditary (2018) is being touted as an uncommonly unsettling horror film whose cold touch lingers long beyond the closing credits. Only hype like this could get our team into the field for a truly one of a kind experiment in fear.
We’ve all heard the expression ‘Scared to Death’ or something ‘Made My Heart Skip a Beat’, but what does that actually look like? Studies have shown that even when subjected to stimuli that can not present a true threat of danger, our bodies will still produce a physiological response. By analyzing real-time results we are able to give you the most accurate reviews for anything that makes your heart race.
For Hereditary we equipped our test subject with a professional grade, hospital certified heart-monitor to record real-time measurements of her heart-rate, oxygen intake and stress levels. (FearScale reports on Heart-Rate monitoring but at times will take into account story structure, acting and plot to draw conclusions about physiological responses when compiling results)
Test Subject: Abby
Fears: Heights, Confined Spaces
Resting HR: 68 bpm
Walking HR: 75-80 bpm
**Incidentally our test subject happened to be four months pregnant at the time of recording
ANALYSIS: As you can see from the chart our subject began the film at her comfortable resting rate of 68bpm. However, it wasn’t long until we started to see a significant change in her activity. Abby was nervous going into this film so we attributed the early bump (1:00) to anticipation. Her levels tapered off slightly but not for long. Some quick jumps and the constant uncertainty of the building story kept her heart pumping for the next twelve minutes. She only had a brief two minutes to relax before her heart began to climb toward the inciting incident (32:00) of the film. It spiked significantly hitting her peak HR at 100bpm. This also happened to be one of the most disturbing scenes we have seen on screen in some time.
Unfortunately this early peak would be the highest her heart-rate would reach. A slow descent brings her numbers to an elevated average of 80bpm, comparable to a brisk walk, for much of the middle build. Heading toward the finale, the jolts come quick but drop off quick as well. Only a couple more uncomfortable scenes were able to raise her heart-rate above 90bpm. Though one would expect the highest numbers to come at the end, it only brought another slow decline to finish out the film.
CONCLUSION: We honestly felt worried taking a pregnant subject into the theater. The hype surrounding this film was incredible. And even though much of the drama revolved around children, our subject was able to maintain moderately healthy levels for her and the child. She didn’t jump out of her seat from scares but the sense of dread at times was mentally draining. A controversial ending however, will keep film-goers divided and many will forget the levels of anxiety the film was able to create early on.
This leaves us with one thing left to ponder. How did the unborn baby mentally fair through this experiment? Will any of her mother’s angst be transferred through the womb? Will the child be affected later in life with un-explainable fears? Only time will tell.