“Hereditary” (A24)

Alex Wolff stars in a scene from the movie "Hereditary." The Catholic News Service classification is L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. (CNS photo/A24)

By Catholic News Service

This subtly creepy horror tale keeps the audience guessing exactly what lies behind the string of macabre occurrences besetting a middle-aged couple (Toni Collette and Gabriel Byrne), their high schooler son (Alex Wolff) and 13-year-old daughter (Milly Shapiro).

An unusual blend of intense family drama and a foray into the occult, writer-director Ari Aster’s feature debut mostly pays patient viewers off with a resounding conclusion, and Collette is furiously intense throughout. But the gloomily atmospheric film, which initially goes easy on the gore, gets less restrained in that respect as it goes along.

Black magic and Satanist themes, gruesome events and images, drug use, glimpses of full male and female nudity in a nonsexual context, a few profanities, numerous rough and crude terms. The Catholic News Service classification is L — limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

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