Praise of Hereditary has been universal. Since its Sundance screening last January and its US theatrical release earlier this month, it's been called a horror masterpiece—repeatedly. Its Rotten scores are promising. Naturally, anyone who's into horror films should be excited about its Philippine premiere this Wednesday, June 20.
But if you're having trouble convincing your friends to join you in the cinema for this one, consider pitching Hereditary to them with a short film by its writer-director, Ari Aster. Hereditary is, unbelievably, his debut feature-length film. But he's written and directed several short films in the past, starting with The Strange Thing About The Johnsons. It's best to walk into it without any further impressions or warnings, other than that this is some truly disturbing shit:
The Strange Thing About The Johnsons is a film that tells the story of a family with a dark secret—not at all unlike the premise of Hereditary. That alone shows that Aster has been working with recurring themes, and that we can get a peek into the maker's mind before heading to the theatres later this week.
But separately from Hereditary, The Strange Thing About The Johnsons is an interesting (although not exactly "enjoyable") film in itself. It tackles an unlikely taboo in a way that resonates with real-life systems of abuse and emotional manipulation, and it does so in a way that's so jarring that there are even reaction videos up on YouTube. The filmmaker clearly wanted to illicit repulsion, and he got it.
Perhaps it's only a taste of the feelings that Hereditary can stir up when it hits cinemas.