At the heart of Ari Aster’s relentless debut feature Hereditary, lies tormented teen Peter Graham (Alex Wolff). One of its great strengths is its slyly unpredictable first act, so I’ll keep things vague here. Suffice to say, the death of their matriarch takes an unimaginable toll on each member of the Graham clan, with Peter’s mother Annie (Toni Collette) and his maladjusted young sister Charlie (Milly Shapiro) left particularly grief-stricken. In the long run, however, it’s Peter who must bear the bulk of the family burden. For the most part, Hereditary is a slow-burning but utterly gripping study of grief and guilt, which almost lives up to the ecstatic early reviews that materialised in response to its Sundance premiere earlier this year. It’s therefore a little disappointing when things begin to hew closer to conventional horror territory, and the sense of creeping dread is punctured by some outlandish plot twists. Still, it’s among the most accomplished shockers in recent memory, with Collette on career-best form as a mother at her literal wit’s end.

Hereditary | Directed by Ari Aster (US 2018) with Toni Collette, Alex Wolff. Starts June 14.

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