• First Viewing June 2018
  • Aster has clearly studied masterpiece horror works from the past. Collette’s character seems inspired by (and it’s an equally great performance) Ellen Burstyn’s turn in The Exorcist, the entire occult read and crowning in the end is unmistakably Rosemary’s Baby and I saw the Milly Shapiro “Charlie” character in the orange sweatshirt went to Roeg’s don’t look now (trademark red slicker in that film but close enough)
  • Having said this- Aster has his own voice—and unlike the work of Polanski, Friedkin and Roeg—I see a little of Wes Anderson here in Aster’s work. He’s clearly obsessed with framing and symmetry. I greatly admire the connection with the diorama (obviously that’s Wes) and miniatures. It has real formal implications and connections (is this all artifice?, is it part of the greater statement of Collette’s powers? Her mother? Her family?)
  • Aster moves the camera and edits carefully—the blending of the diorama to life in one scene (I’ll look for more with my second viewing). There’s really zero interest in shock or surprise
  • It’s legit scary—but the film—like all great horror films—works without the horror. The domestic drama is excellent. Gabriel Byrne is woefully miscast—but Toni Collette more than makes up for it and Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro and Ann Dowd are strong in support. Collette’s highlight is the initial support group meeting monologue- quite stunning and she should be nominated
  • Collette (and Aster for that matter) play it straight. There’s no winking, self-defeating gimmickry—it’s told with a dedication to disturb—it’s detailed and intense (that car sequence)—I think Aster shows a bit more promise behind the camera than Robert Eggers in his equally dedicated horror The Witch from 2015

 

viewing 2.0 – October 2018

  • love Justin Chang’s review of the sad tale of a family in decline
  • opens on a gorgeous shot of the tree-house within the frame of the window frame– stunning- it’s Wes Anderson or– better yet- Renoir– then we have a pan and a tracking shot matching into the miniature
  • formal detail- the necklace with the symbol is shown throughout
  • family drama- Byrne lies about the cemetery desecration- she lies about going to a movie- this is a family on the fall
  • with a second watch I’m definitely blown away by Collette’s group therapy word vomit acting- unnerving- powerful
  • lots of use of miniatures as establishing shots
  • I’m still not sure if Collette is a sort of puppet master with her work on the miniatures- or if she’s a record keeper- or if its simply an outlet for her
  • the allergy/car scene is a well crafted scene of grizzling intensity- the score escalates the action
  • Ann Down is a revelation in support- played entirely straight
  • shot going below ground as they bury at the funeral- Wes Anderson– heavy use of beautiful wallpaper
  • oscillating between miniatures and real action
  • It’s Lynchian in many ways– clearly an influence
  • The Shining– the maze- is this real?
  • Collette’s character has a split personality- “on and off again” with mom which she outlines. There’s pure economy in the script. Schizophrenia.
  • old people who all need a living vessel like Rosemary’s Baby or Being John Malkovich
  • final shot of Alex Wolff- unblinking close up with crescendo in the music- “Hail Paiman” like Rosemary’s Baby and then, so formally sound, end with a miniature
  • HR/MS border- learning top 5 of the year quality which would make it the best pure horror quite possibly since The Shining