Anybody going into the cinema expecting a straight horror film may be disappointed, but this is a theme if anyone knows the production company A24. Their output consists of arthouse films that have either been surprise hits or two-days-and-gone experiments. In other words, they take chances. Have a look and you might be thrown by what you thought they did by reputation, and what they do in reality. Also, you might see another element - loyalty. They take risks on first-time directors or avant-garde artists working on the very periphery of the circuit. Sometimes it has paid off, with a few breakout hits on their hands. This particular reviewer could go through all the best experiences in film over the last five years and the vast majority were produced by this company, and here we get to the latest.
A follow-up to Aster’s debut, Hereditary, and a very different beast. Audiences might not be expecting laughs, but will they be ready for an elongated breakup film? the director himself has said this is what it is. And it really is, at the same time as so many other things. The film does feel quite basic, yet it throws the viewer off into directions that are shocking. Also, in the modern context of the business of making films that fit the cookie cutter mould, this is brave, very brave indeed.
We enter into the tragedy of one person’s collapse, at the precise same time that the relationship she's currently in also begins to fall apart. This is not a ghosts-down-dark-corridors type of exercise, quite the reverse. In opposition to everything currently being thrown at us in the name of horror, this harkens back to a more classic theme. It is also set in a place of almost permanent sunlight in summertime, which comes into play more and more as it goes along. Even when we are inside a building, the outside is poking in; there is no hiding.
As everybody is aware, it reflects The Wicker Man, but it is more of an examination of an artist’s love of that film and possibly him pointing out that it wasn’t a horror film, in and of itself. The reason it was a flop on release could be put down to the fact it doesn’t fit in any box. Aster knows this, but he may also be commenting on the fans' misunderstanding of that earlier Pagan classic. See for yourself.
The one thing that is true is that the lead character is searching. She needs a home after hers is brutally taken from her. Who can give her that? Who will she choose to be her family and comfort?