Family is hell—the literal hell—in Hereditary (2008). Writer/director Ari Aster brings the full bravura with this unrelentingly tense and profoundly disturbing generator of hard-R nightmares. It’s is also funny, if you can believe it, with gallows humor that’s as gallows as it gets, but the horror comes first, and it’s for real. The movie scared my living daylights out. Watch it in a packed house.
Ghost Stories (2017) is a variation of the British horror anthology that places its three short tales of terror into a larger, unifying narrative structure, which approximates the effects of a full-length feature—a thoughtful gesture for those of us who never much cared for British horror anthologies (or their American counterparts). It’s written well and directed well by Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman, who adapted it from their own stage play, but it feels so natural in movie form that you wonder if this had been the plan all along.
In co-writer/director John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place (2018), a creature apocalypse of sound-sensitive people-eaters has decimated the American heartland. It’s up to the last American family, led by Krasinski’s last paterfamilias, to preserve traditional gender roles and other American values like shopping. But once the bug monsters come in all their chitinous glory, their first PG-13 kill is the patriarchy. A girl might not be able to speak above a whisper to stay alive in this quiet world, but that won’t stop her from finding her voice.