A24 Books launched in September 2019 with the releases of the unabridged screenplays for Alex Garland’s “Ex Machina,” Robert Eggers’ “The Witch,” and Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight.” The fourth A24 Book release arrived this week and it’s Ari Aster’s “Hereditary,” which is now available for purchase on the studio’s website.
The 240-page “Hereditary” book is priced at $60 and includes not only Aster’s script but also a foreword written by Bong Joon Ho, a new essay on the film from “The Empathy Exams” writer Leslie Jamison, and Aster’s detailed breakdown of the film’s family séance scene.
That Bong would write a foreword for the official “Hereditary” book is not too surprising as earlier this year the “Parasite” Oscar winner named Aster one of 20 directors essential to the future of cinema. Bong is an Aster super-fan and told IndieWire in December 2019 that Aster’s “Hereditary” follow-up “Midsommar” was one of his favorite films of the year. Speaking to Sight and Sound magazine in February, Bong said, “I met Ari Aster once in New York. He’s a unique guy. I love his talent.”
Bong’s “Parasite” won the Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best International Feature Film earlier this year. The director announced a much-deserved break after his Oscar tour ended, which makes his “Hereditary” book foreword the first new Bong material since “Parasite’s” historic Oscar night.
Read Bong’s “Hereditary” foreword below:
He’s facing forward in the driver seat, completely frozen. He can’t bear to look back. In the backseat is his sister Charlie’s BODY, covered in thick, tar-like blood. Only the body. No head. If he looks up ever so slightly, he will be able to see her through the rearview mirror. So he can’t even move his eyes. Eventually, he gets out of the car without looking at all. Once dawn breaks, he will hear his mother’s scream.
Even more terrifying than the decapitated girl in the backseat is the fact that we, as an audience, may have — subconsciously — hoped for Charlie’s death. Of course this is not the film’s ‘official’ stance — to root for a child’s death. But when Charlie makes annoying sounds with her tongue, or when she cuts the head off a dead pigeon, the movie is undoubtedly sending signals that fill us with sinister thoughts.
While the film is an impeccable work of genre in which occult elements are cleverly, tightly woven together, I wonder if genre is just a cover for the real horror. Because the true horror comes from the family itself. One of the most terrifying scenes in the film is the dimly lit dinner scene, which has no occult elements and relies solely on Toni Collette’s explosive performance. The film is ostensibly about the hell that a family suffers as generation after generation is swallowed by a demon, but it’s actually saying that family itself (or ties defined by blood) is hell.
In ‘Hereditary,’ Ari Aster goes beyond the trappings of genre and delivers true, profound horror. A horror that is primal and inescapable. In order to survive this overwhelming horror, we cast a spell on ourselves. We hope that the gruesome moments we witnessed will eventually settle into a “neutral view of the accident,” like an innocuous tableau made up of adorable miniature figures.
Head to A24’s website to purchase the “Hereditary” book.