Hereditary: A Raw Experience of What Mental Illness Can Really Do to a Family

The trailer would have you believe this is a true horror movie, one which is comparable to the Exorcist.

I am here to tell you it certainly is a horror movie, but not for the supernatural elements (a point I'll touch on later in this article) and it certainly isn't comparable to the Exorcist - why is this?

Well...here we go!

Hereditary: A Raw Experience of What Mental Illness Can Really Do to a Family

*Filled with spoilers! ...just so you know...

The story revolves around a family, of which the grandmother dies - which stirs up a lot of issues in the past for the kids and the mother. The mother has a history of mental illness in the family - of which almost all of her immediate family died before she created her own.

Her brother and her father had schizophrenia and dissociative personality disorders - the ultimate causes of their premature deaths.

[Just a reminder here - mental illness is hereditary - genetically speaking.]

Hereditary: A Raw Experience of What Mental Illness Can Really Do to a Family

I've seen many Youtube videos speaking about the film and the ending - they all seem to satisfy themselves with exactly what they see and don't question if the scenes had any 'hidden' meanings. So, as you can imagine, almost all of them think this is the story of a demonic cult created by the grandmother who died - trying to bring forth a demon from hell to inhabit a certain male member of her family.

Hereditary: A Raw Experience of What Mental Illness Can Really Do to a Family

This, however, from my perspective and the perspective of people I've gone to see the film with was completely wrong and too simple of an answer for such a complicated piece of art.

The author himself (who is also the director) pointed some of these things out:

in an interview which you can find on Youtube, he explicitly said he wrote it primarily as a drama to depict what mental illness looks like inside a family - it's supposed to be (his words) "a vivid family drama" first and foremost. It is also described by the creator as supposed to be sorrowful and a serious meditation on grief and trauma.
So these quotes, to me, are clear indications he himself is also primarily focused on mental illness and all real-life human problems when connected to those issues.

Hereditary: A Raw Experience of What Mental Illness Can Really Do to a Family

Now - about the supernatural elements in the film.

There were quite a bit of those near the middle and the end - they were all witnessed solely by the son and his mother - both of which have tremendous predispositions for mental illnesses/disorders.

(As you must know - mental illness can be triggered or worsened by trauma - which is something they all experience at the beginning of the movie more than once.)

The supernatural elements can clearly be explained as hallucinations from their afflictions - and explained also by the fact that the audience sees the world through their eyes and not a sane person's viewpoint.

Hereditary: A Raw Experience of What Mental Illness Can Really Do to a Family

Another element which lends itself to this movie being an ode to the sufferers of mental illness is that the father/husband seems to be fighting this, at first convincing his wife of calming down and seeing the world as it is, and later on being killed by the wife in a schizophrenic rage - which she doesn't see as murder, but as auto-combustion of her husband and she is genuinely shocked.

Hereditary: A Raw Experience of What Mental Illness Can Really Do to a Family

The insane aren't shown as crazy, they're shown as victims and prisoners of their own minds - which they truly are.

Historically speaking many schizophrenics and people with disocciative personality disorders were called possessed and were put through exorcisms - this is where the Exorcist comes into play - but it is only a small nod to the genre while keeping the rawness of reality with the audience at all times.

The writer and director is brilliant at approaching the topic and making it seem almost demonic - since mental illness isn't even today understood as well as it should be - since it isn't scannable or visible - might as well not exist.

This film was a piece of art in every sense of the word. The horror genre creeped in there - solely because of the rawness of the mentally ill human's condition that stalked me as I sat there watching it - and all the way home.

Hereditary: A Raw Experience of What Mental Illness Can Really Do to a Family

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Most Helpful Guy

  • I'm hoping its not entirely hereditary. My grandfather is schizophrenic.

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    • Doesn't have to be...
      But those with that in their family history are, of course, much more susceptible to it than other people. (For those with no family history of it, it's around 1% chance of them having it... so it's safe to say most mental illnesses like these are hereditary. That doesn't mean it's unavoidable... just that you're more likely to have it than a person whose family history is clean.)

Most Helpful Girl

  • The movie did a shit job explaining mental illness. Movie was terrible and if anything didn't do anything to explain mental illness. If anything, it just furthered the stigma by relating it to a demon straight from hell. It wasn't well directed or written. Waste of my time honestly.

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    • *You've missed the point entirely... The point of this movie wasn't to 'explain' anything... it was to depict it...
      Sounds like you have a hell of a lot of issues here...

    • I actually didn't miss the point. Don't be mad just because I think your analysis is a terrible one (which it is, not a huge shocker though)

      Oh, and thanks for MHO :p

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What Guys Said 4

  • Your opinion on the film is quite provocative. But one does not exclude the other. When someone hears voices in his head, who tells me that those voices are not coming from actual entities? Modern science is roughly one hundred years old. All other is ancient knowledge which was used to build the pyramids and establish empires!

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  • I haven't seen the movie but it seems that it gives an internal view of mental illness.

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  • I hope never to live that

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  • Horrible things but good myTake

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What Girls Said 3

  • I don't think this movie had anything to do with mental illness, it was about a family who didn't know they have a history of dealing with the occult and that it goes down from generation to generation.

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  • I'm so excited to watch it now!
    I'm going to do that as soon as I can!

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  • I'm watching it right now and i hope that i don't regret it later for wasting my time. 😅

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