Hereditary: Why Family Equals Fear | NowThis Nerd

‘Hereditary’ is being called the scariest film since ‘The Exorcist,’ and a big part of that, is its fixation on flesh and blood No, not that kind, I’m talking about family

From ‘The Shining’ to ‘Sinister,’ family-focused horror movies are a cut above in terms of terror, but what makes them so much scarier than your typical slasher? I’m Andrew, and today, I want to explore three reasons Why Family Equals Fear Reason 1: Families are Sympathetic As you can probably tell from our ‘How to Kill’ series, we’re big fans of ‘80s slashers here at NowThis Nerd, but we watch them for different reasons than family-horror films Those tend to be more cerebral and psychological, they rely on disturbing imagery as opposed to gore and brutality Slashers, on the other hand, are more fun than frightening We love to cheer on the killer as he tears through his prey, which are usually a gang of obnoxious teenage tropes, Slasher victims drink, smoke, have pre-marital sex, mine Bitcoins, and generally just act like buttheads, which is why it’s so damn entertaining to watch them get slaughtered by a masked maniac Ted! Hey Ted! Where the hell's the corkscrew?! We’re not worried about how poor Shelly Finkelstein's parents will react to the loss of their beloved son, because the victims exist in a vacuum, If you want to terrify the audience rather than thrill them, you need protagonists you can relate to, and what’s more relatable than a family? Whether it’s a father slumming as a caretaker in Colorado, a mother who’s loving daughter is turning into a twisted blasphemy, or two parents trying to keep their kids safe during an alien apocalypse, family-horror protagonists have struggles we can emphasize with

Each member is more fleshed out than your average Freddy fodder, and it’s much easier to see ourselves in their shoes, which makes it way more unsettling when crap hits the fan We all either have a family, Look at banner, Michael! or know a family, and when bad things happen, they hit close to home That brings us to point 2: Families are Safe So many family-horror movies are centered around the home, and the fear comes from seeing a traditionally safe space invaded by unholy horrors Look, you don’t need a Skype call from Vincent D’Onofrio to tell you why haunted houses are scaryNamed Baghuul, the eater of children Did you say 'eater?' Of children, yes We’ve all had moments where we went downstairs for a midnight snack, some string cheese, maybe some pecan sandies, and a flickering light or a creaking floorboard convinced us we were moments away from death

Family-horror takes that feeling and amps it up to ludicrous degrees, LUDA! I mean, the ‘Paranormal Activity’ series got six whole movies out of it Home is supposed to be a haven, a place you can always return to when the rest of the world becomes too much to handle But if a Hell Gate opens up in the basement, or a bunch of dead kids start screening snuff films in the attic, it’s a desecration of your most secure sanctum And as frightening as it is to see horrors in the home, it’s even scarier when it’s coming from a family member DO YOU KNOW WHAT SHE DID? YOUR CREEPY DAUGHTER? The granddaddy of this trope is of course, ‘The Shining

’ The Torrences aren’t exactly the Cleavers, but at the start, they’re a loving family trying to work past Jack’s alcoholism and history of abuse He said 'Wendy, I'm never gonna touch another drop, and if I do you can leave me' And he didn't, and he hasn't any alcohol in five months Traditionally, father figures have been portrayed as protectors, responsible for their family’s safety Seeing that role subverted shakes us to our foundations

Watching Jack take that drink from the ghostly bartender, plunging him deeper into madness, is even more disturbing than his inevitable rampage HERE'S JOHNNY! That’s not to say dads have all the fun, though, Although c'mon, dads have a lot of fun horror movies have had plenty of murderous moms, too Take ‘The Babadook,’ where a mother’s grief manifests as a sinister, sharp-dressed demon that almost makes her strangle her son, at least, until she vomits up the devil inside her in a heartwarming/revolting display of love Parents are put on this earth to protect their offspring, and the only thing scarier than seeing them threaten their terrified tots, is a killer kid

Oh Christ! Don't like that, that wasn't planned! Please cut! Family-horror gets a lot of mileage out of creepy children, and Lord knows when I'm one on one with a kid, I'm terrified whether they’re the spawn of Satan like Damien or Rosemary’s Baby, What have you done to its eyes?! He has his father's eyes possessed by demons like like Regan or Carolyn from ‘The Conjuring,’ or straight up mutant monsters like ‘It’s Alive,’ the juxtaposition of childhood innocence with unspeakable evil is maybe the most skin-crawling sensation in all of cinema My favorite example is ‘Pet Sematary’ Louis Creed had it all, a great job, a wife and kids, and he was best friends with Herman Munster

Congratulations! Scooba-doo and scooba-die, that chicken's not too young to fry! But after his son was smashed by a semi-truck, he gave into his grief and resurrected him as an adorable, ankle-slashing killer Even in the face of tragedy, his wife and daughter were still there for him, but his hubris destroyed it all in one horrible night Lou introduced the unholy into his otherwise perfect family, and it cost him everything Which brings us to the last reason family-horror is more frightening: Families are Sacred The idea of a traditional nuclear family is becoming more antiquated with each passing year, Where's my dinner? but certain tropes run deep in our cultural experience, and after millenia of evolution our species has put the concept of family on a pedestal It’s embedded in our DNA, and it’s deeply disturbing to see it perverted

One of my favorite scary movie tropes is the cannibal clan, a group of horrifying hillbillies who gather around the dinner table for a nice feast of human flesh The Sawyers in ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ are undoubtedly the most famous example, even though their boy Leatherface gets all the glory, he’s only able to accomplish his dreams through the loving support of his crazed kin The Sawyers have had a huge influence on horror From the fallout-ridden freaks of ‘The Hills Have Eyes’ It's breakfast time! to the Firefly clan from ‘House of 1000 Corpses,’ who are actually kind of likeable, despite being crazy Rob Zombie serial killers Please don't kill us, please don't kill us

[MOCKING] Please don't kill us, please don't kill us Shut your mouth and get your crap in the box! You find yourself laughing along with them, then being disgusted with yourself for empathising with them RUN RABBIT! Freaky families aren’t limited to film, either

One of the most disturbing episodes of the ‘X-Files’ was simply called ‘Home,’ where Mulder and Scully investigate the Peacock clan The family is responsible for unspeakable crimes, but the reveal of Mama Peacock and everything it implies casts them in a horrifying new light What we're witnessing, Scully, is undiluted animal behavior Mankind, absent its own creation of civilization, technology and information, regressed to an almost prehistoric state Through inbreeding and insanity, they’ve reverted to their base animal instincts, and devolved into a feral family that makes a mockery of the values we supposedly hold so dear Now we have to move on start a new family one we'll be proud of Find a new place to call ours

A new home Zombie Redneck Torture Families, to quote ‘Cabin in the Woods,’ are so disturbing because they’re the polar opposite of the stereotypical ideal It’s borderline blasphemy, as opposed to ‘The Witch,’ which is actual blasphemy After a witch uses their newborn for exfoliant, Thomasin’s family begins a slow descent into Satanic madness, with some of the most shocking imagery I’ve ever seen in a film You’ll never look at apples the same way, I can guarantee 'The Witch' is a shocking perversion of family and faith, and if you don’t believe me, just ask Black Phillip

He's a goat Black Phillip, Black Phillip! He's a goat He's also the devil Woulds't thou like to live deliciously? Yes By the end, Thomasin is the only one left standing, and she leaves her old life behind to join the unholy coven that promises her far more than her family ever could

Even without the supernatural, it’s extremely unsettling to see family bonds brutally broken, like in ‘Funny Games,’ where two parents and their son are held hostage by two houseguests who stop by to borrow eggs You had a dozen and your going shopping on Monday anyway We just want the eggs, that's all I learned this from growing up in the Bronx, Rule #1: Don't let anyone borrow anything, especially eggs You better be careful, old man, or I'll break your eggs

Now please leave They’re forced to engage in horrific violence against each other, completely powerless in their comfy Long Island home Bronx Rule #2: Don't ever find yourself in Long Island The name of this game is, 'By Knife or By Gun, Losing Your Life Can Sometimes Be Fun' It’s a shock to see a family so completely debased and demolished, especially without any demons and spooky ghosts

Does anyone want anything? It reminds us that even the most precious bonds can be shattered in an instant, and I don’t know about you, but that’s pretty hecking terrifying Throughout the history of horror cinema, the family has existed as an ideal to twist and tear down, foundations meant to be broken, and ‘Hereditary’ mixes all of the classic family-horror tropes into one sinister stew It’s a realistic portrayal of a mother dealing with loss, it’s a subversion of the safety and security a family offers, it’s even got a creepy kid! You can have your masked maniacs and movie monsters, but for me, when it comes to scares, I like to keep it in the family Thanks for watching everybody, this was a particularly creepy video to make, but I’m not done yet I wanna know what your favorite family horror movie is

Insidious? Last House on the Left? Or is it just someone coming to borrow your eggs? Let me know in the comments, follow us on twitter at Now Nerd Official, `And please subscribe to nowthis nerd

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