The Art of Hereditary

Hereditary is a family drama turned horror film by incredible filmmaker, Ari Aster. It features a star studded cast, with the likes of Alex Wolff and Toni Collette.

As the title suggests, the films main plot is centred on things we inherit from people before us.

Whilst on first watch you may not appreciate the art, the intricacies and importance of art in this film is humungous.

Hereditary, Ari Aster


The first artistic value I want to talk about is the miniatures we see throughout the film. The set of the house was made as a replica to completely match the miniatures that the character Annie makes. This is such a brilliant and intelligent tool, as we see this as a transition with our cast in. This connotes that the main cast of the family are not only trapped, but that they are puppets and pawns in their story. They have no control over the events that are to play out in the upcoming sequences. Ultimately, they are trapped in their roles to fulfil something out of their control; like dolls in a doll house.

Continuing from the theme of dolls, they too appear throughout the film. And not only in the instances of replicas in the miniatures that Annie creates in key moments of her life.

Charlie too makes her own dolls, out of pigeon heads, and is ultimately seen as an almost living doll in the final act.

Hereditary, Ari Aster


The most obvious use of artwork in the film is the notebook in which Charlie sketches in. She is seen sketching in the scene of Ellen's funeral,

This is also used as a major tool throughout the film for many of the key moments, and Charlie can be seen sketching Ellen in her casket in it too.

As i previously mentioned Charlie made dolls too, she draws a picture of the pigeon she beheaded in this notebook and the beak looks very similar to a pair of scissors.

Hereditary, Ari Aster


There is a prevalent symbol which appears throughout the film at several key points. For example, Annie and her mother both wear it around their neck - joining them to the same cult.

It can also be seen on the doormat which makes Annie start to link everything together. Whilst so easy to miss, it is also painted on the post where Charlie is decapitated and also painted in blood in the attic.

This symbol is owned by Paimon, and ultimately represents three heads in which we see in the three beheadings of Alex, Charlie and Annie. He needs these beheadings to be able to come back.

One thing that I do need to note, appreciating it as an artist and photographer, is the use of lighting. Instead of cheap and overdone jump-scares, the things that scared me in Hereditary were usually in plain sight, only brought more in to the focal point as the lighting shifted subtly. Big hats off from me for an intuitive way of scares with them being authentic.