Ari Aster brings a scalding intensity to his feature directorial debut, Hereditary. Unmistakably a horror film — in its nightmarish imagery, in its tone, in its unapologetic embrace of the gruesome — Hereditary is presented with a psychological acuity that is far more affecting than jump scares and freely flung gore (though it must be noted that the movie does fine by those elements, too). Terror wells up in stillness, in the agonizing moments in which a character feels the blanketing burden of fate’s cruelest turns or in late night hours of rumination enveloped in the shadows of long, anguished history. With cinematographer Pawel Pogorzelski, Aster crafts images of bleak beauty that entice like poisonous flora. Toni Collette is ferociously committed as a mother sent asunder by unexpected mourning, and Alex Wolff is tremendous as her fraying son, especially in one particularly painful close up. Aster gifts them and their castmates with intricate roles, and gives them the latitude to develop moments of pummeling power. Hereditary redefines the ways in which a film can be haunting.