Stars: Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, Gabriel Byrne, Ann Dowd.
Director: Ari Aster
Screenplay: Ari Aster
If I could base my rating on cinematography, this film would have a 5 star rating. It is gorgeous, entrancing, dark, depressing. Aster's instincts as a director and Pawel Pogorzelski's incredible talent as cinematographer is some of the best work I have seen this year. The powerhouse of the editing, directing and photography is superb and I would love to see more work from these filmmakers.
Milly Shapiro's work as the younger sister, Charlie is so endearing. I felt everything for this little uncomfortable child who has very specific interests—that only become apparent further down the track—and struggles to interact with her peers. A girl who seems uncomfortable in her own skin but can dive into her art to represent herself. My heart burns when she is dragged to her big brother's (Alex Wolff) party and is left alone while she begs him to not leave her. This is stellar casting and stellar talent.
And of course we have the godsend herself, Toni Collette as Annie Graham—a mother who has recently lost her own mother. Her struggle in this film is the idea of motherhood. Her Mother was not by any means a good one and through the literal acts of her mother, Annie can't be the good mother that she needs to be for her kids. She regrets that her kids, or rather her son knows that she didn't want him but loves him none-the-less.
The actual horror in this piece is done so well. The aesthetics are beautiful. But ultimately where this film falls flat is the basic story of the horror plot and that is a real shame. Everything from the acting, direction, art design is doing its best to prop up this weak thread of storytelling, but the good thing is that you don't notice its weak points until maybe the last four minutes...damn you last four minutes.