A few days ago Nightmare on Film Street revealed that A24’s Hereditary, one of the most buzzed about films at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, would arrive in theatres on June 8. Now we have a trailer to go along with the release date and it is filled with absolutely bonkers imagery. Watch the first trailer, above.
The well-cut trailer is accompanied by a ticking clock soundtrack and plenty of atmosphere. There’s some plot, but not a great deal; the trailer tends to focus on quieter interpersonal moments between family members before escalating into violent imagery.
The official plot synopsis is as follows:
When Ellen, the matriarch of the Graham family, passes away, her daughter’s family begins to unravel cryptic and increasingly terrifying secrets about their ancestry. The more they discover, the more they find themselves trying to outrun the sinister fate they seem to have inherited.
We open with Ellen‘s funeral and an unusual eulogy by a disheveled Annie (Toni Collette), who describes her mother as a “suspicious” woman. Annie is clearly grief stricken, but also appears to struggle to make human connections, particularly when it comes to daughter Charlie (Milly Shapiro). Repeated shots of Annie working on incredibly realistic life-like miniature figures (evident in the trailer’s memorable opening shot, as well as the poster) paint a portrait of an isolated, solitary woman and there’s a brief insinuation that Charlie was closer to her grandmother than her mother.
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Other take-aways from the trailer: the women dominate. Collectively nearly all of the spoken dialogue is delivered by women, including Ann Dowd’s mystery character who had ties to Ellen.
The nature of the horror remains unclear, but as the trailer progresses there’s some pretty spectacular nightmare fuel. Shapiro’s physical aesthetic imbues Charlie with an aged creepiness, and that oddness is reinforced when she cuts the head off of a dead pigeon that flew into the school window. Other memorable imagery includes Peter (Alex Wolff) smashing his head into his desk, a body lit up in flames in front of Annie and a decomposing corpse whose face is covered in bugs. Plus some really, really aggressive walnut chopping.
It’s hard not to get overhyped considering A24’s track record for high quality, thought-provoking horror (The Witch, It Comes At Night), as well as a cast that includes Collette, Dowd and Gabriel Byrne. Throw in some ecstatic reviews like AV Club‘s AA Dowd (“it’s a serious, adult psychological study that also happens to double as impeccably crafted haunted-house “entertainment.”) and Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman (“It gets at something sophisticated: the way that mental and emotional damage becomes part of a family’s spirit, and is therefore passed on as if it were…a spirit.”) and it appears that director Ari Aster has hit a home run in his feature film debut.
We will have to wait until June to find out if Hereditary can live up to its buzzy debut, but judging from this trailer, A24 could have a monster hit on their hands this summer.