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  • Writer's picturezandaleeindigo

Ari Aster is A Visionary

Updated: Apr 25, 2020

Yeah that's right. I said it. After nearly two years of not seeing it I finally rewatched his debut feature length film Hereditary (2018), and I was still blown away.

I'm someone who doesn't really like horror movies. Not because they terrify me or trigger me in some way though, the opposite of that is actually true.

As a kid, I was the biggest baby. I cried at everything (I still do if I'm honest) and I was terrified of everything. I think I made three failed attempts before I was able to watch Monster House (2006) fully because I was so scared. Once I finally watched it though, I remember loving it. I think that's when I realized scary movies were just that, movies, that couldn't hurt me in anyway.

So once I finally jumped that hurdle, and watched a pretty good story unfold, I remember loving Monster House and wanting to watch it all the time. I remember I had a similar experience with rollercoasters as a kid, but once I tackled what I was afraid of, I was fearless.

Not much scared me after Monster House. I watched Pewdiepie play Slenderman and Markiplier play Five Nights at Freddie's, I flinched at the jumpscares and got creeped out by the atmosphere until eventually.... I didn't.

I had my stint of watching horror movies; I tried Blair Witch Project (1999), didn't see the appeal. Tried It Follows (2014), but I never got scared. Tried a slew of newer horror films and they all relied on the jumpscares I was basically immune to now. For a while, I gave up on scary movies because they rarely followed through.

And there were some horror films along the way that were very enjoyable but again, none scared me, they usually had great storytelling with some elements of horror (ex. Get Out (2017), Scream (1996), and Raw (2016)). Horror bored me.

That is, until I saw Hereditary. I remember the story being great because it was simple enough that the conclusion made sense but complex enough that upon a second watch there are clues hinting to the resolution you didn't notice before. The performances were amazing of course, Toni Collette was robbed, and the cinematography was captivating and intentional which is something you don't see in the scary movies that rely on jumpscares.

Not only all that but, after watching the movie for the first time I specifically remember feeling like I was "vibrating." This was the first horror movie I'd ever seen since Monster House that had an effect on me. I wasn't scared though, I was disturbed. I don't think I'd ever been disturbed by a movie before but Hereditary disturbed me, and I was intrigued by it.

I thought about it for weeks and watched countless video essays documenting how Aster filled the movie with breadcrumbs for the audience to lead them to the ending, King Paimon's summoning, and I really was obsessed with it for a while. It was my all time favorite horror movie I could not give it enough praise.

Then a year later, Midsommar (2019) came out and I knew; Ari Aster doesn't miss. The films story for me was even more solid, the arcs of all the characters executed flawlessly. It looked absolutely beautiful with such an eerie, haunting score. The performances were great, Florence obviously was amazing and Will Poulter's comedy was perfect.

After seeing the highly anticipated film in a fairly crowded theater super late at night with some close friends, I once again felt myself vibrating. In fact, according to my own tweets I felt "crazy." I was in awe and honestly, didn't know how I felt. It was that disturbed feeling again but it was accompanied by something else I couldn't quite put my finger on.

That was until my second watch, when I realized I felt some level of comfort watching Dani's story unfold. I know Midsommar is a hit or miss for many people, and I recognize it has faults but the way Aster was able to combine this super disturbing story about a cult and this almost heartwarming narrative about a girl finally finding people to call family is masterful. And I've found it to be one of my comfort films now. I mean, I was so obsessed with it when it came out I had a Midsommar themed grad party. Who does that???

Anyway, I'm writing all this to say I'm thinking about getting a King Paimon tattoo because if any film deserves to be on my body it's one that affects me physically, one that makes me feel crazy. It's gotta be something of Ari Aster's.

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