Warning: this article contains MASSIVE spoilers for Ari Aster's Hereditary! You've been warned!
The horror genre is in high gear right now, and nothing epitomizes that quite like Hereditary. Ari Aster's shocking horror film takes some seriously dark turns, offering up some truly amazing dramatic moments for actors like The Sixth Sense's Toni Collette, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle's Alex Wolff, and The Handmaid's Tale's Ann Dowd. More than that, however, the film also features a gut-punch ending that arguably elevates it beyond even the lofty comparisons to The Exorcist that have popped up in recent days. That's right, folks; it's that intense.
With that in mind (and now that we have managed to calm our heart rates down following the film's debut) we have dissected Hereditary's ending in an attempt to make sense of what we just saw. There are a number of major points to get to here, so let's get started with what actually happens at the end of the film.
What Happens At The End Of The Film?
The beginning of the end of the Graham family comes when Steve (Gabriel Byrne) brings Peter (Alex Wolff) home after Joan (Ann Dowd) puts a bizarre hex on the teenager, and a demonic force attacks him in his classroom. Peter goes to bed, while Annie (Toni Collette) begs Steve to burn Charlie's sketchbook in the fireplace -- an act she believes (but still accepts) will cause her to burn as well. Steve ultimately refuses to play Annie's game, thinking her to be responsible for everything that has happened in recent days, so Annie throws the book into the flames herself. In shock, Steve is the one who combusts, and Annie's shocked face quickly turns calm as the mysterious light seen in previous scenes in the film overtakes her.
Day quickly changes to night, and we can see an army of mysterious figures standing outside of the Graham house. Peter awakens from his room and goes looking for his parents, completely unaware that his mother is stalking him from the ceiling. He goes downstairs to find his father's charred corpse by the fireplace and then looks into the corner to see a naked man smiling at him from the shadows. At that moment, Annie attacks Peter and chases him up into the attic; though he closes the door behind him, Annie manages to cling onto the ceiling and repeatedly slam her head into the door like a jackhammer.
Once in the attic, Peter finds evidence of a satanic ritual, including a photo with his eyes punched out of it. His grandmother's body is gone, but above him, he sees that his mother has somehow made it into the attic, and she saws her own head off with razor wire while making eye contact with him. Peter is then attacked by a group of naked worshippers who were hiding in the shadows, and he jumps out of the window and lands in the lawn below.
The fall seemingly kills Peter, and his black soul leaves his body. Then the bright glow seen earlier in the film enters his body, and he reawakens, clearly changed by the ordeal. Peter lets out the same clicking sound that Charlie made throughout the movie, and then follows the hovering, headless body of his mother as it flies into Charlie's treehouse.
Inside the treehouse, a group of naked cultists greets Peter. Joan refers to him as "Charlie," and places a crown on his head as the cult prays to a statue of Paimon with Charlie's severed head set at the top. Everyone seems to treat Peter with reverence, as they hail the impending arrival of Paimon, and the movie ends.