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Are you scared right now? If you are, then there's a good chance that you saw Hereditary this weekend. Ari Aster's modern horror masterpiece has blown us away, and its effective use of terror and old-school family drama about the trials of motherhood has ensured that it's a film we will talk about for quite a while.
With that said, our viewing of Hereditary has also left us with some questions. The film has stayed with us since its premiere this weekend, and there are a few moments that we still need to figure out. On that note, we have put together a list of burning Hereditary questions that we still have after seeing the scary flick, and we're going to start that list off by addressing the machinations of the cult of Paimon.
Was the Cult Somehow Responsible for Charlie's Death?
The moment in which Charlie's head is ripped off of her body by a telephone pole seems like the epitome of an accident upon first viewing. The young girl (Milly Shapiro) sticks her head out the window of the car to breath right at the moment when an animal crosses the street, and it seems like a one in a million incident that nobody could've anticipated -- which is likely why Steve (Gabriel Byrne) is so forgiving of his son. However, the ending of the film appears to imply that the cult expected this to happen and that its plan always relied on Charlie dying so she could take over Peter's body. Was the cult somehow responsible for the accident with the pole? And if so... how?
Why Did Steve Burn?
One of Hereditary's scariest moments (and one that was sadly teased in the film's creepy trailer) is the scene in which Annie (Toni Collette) accidentally burns Steve by throwing Charlie's book into the fire. It's set up as a surprise based on the fact that Annie caught fire earlier in the film when she attempted to burn the book, but it's never really explained why Steve is the one who ignites at that moment -- after all, he had nothing to do with the burning, and he had every intention of leaving. There's a case to be made that Annie merely is behind the change and was lying when she feigned shock, but Hereditary definitely keeps us in the dark as to why this actually happened the way that it did.
What Is the Significance Of The Beheadings?
One visual motif that consistently pops up throughout Hereditary's story is the idea of decapitations and beheadings. We see it early on with Charlie's decision to cut the head off of a bird and put it on a doll, then we see it later when Charlie's own head is ripped off by a telephone pole as Peter rushes her to a hospital during an allergy outbreak, and we see it again later when Annie's mother has the head removed from her body, and Annie saws her own head off with razor wire while chasing Peter through the house. The beheading imagery is definitely disturbing, but its greater relevance to the cult and Paimon's arrival on earth is never explicitly made clear by the film.
Did Charlie Know About The Cult?
Nobody in the Graham family seems to have a clear understanding of the cult's existence before the final sequence in Hereditary in which Annie goes crazy. Having said that, it's implied that Annie's mother got to Charlie while both of them were still alive, and the cult had some degree of influence over Charlie's development. Given that fact, Hereditary leaves us questioning how immersed Charlie was in the cult during her life. Was she vaguely aware of its existence, or was she a full-blown member? Her innocent personality would suggest the former, but her tendency to cut the heads off of animals (see the previous entry about beheadings) would suggest the latter.
What's Going To Happen To Charlie?
Finally, one of the last questions that we have about Hereditary's absolutely insane ending is the question of what will ultimately become of Charlie Graham after the cult completes its Paimon ritual. One of the elements of the story that's never made entirely clear is why Charlie is so essential to complete the process of bringing the demon into our world, and we're left to wonder if Paimon will overtake Charlie's soul or if Charlie was Paimon the entire time. Neither option bodes well for the world (the arrival of a demon is never a good thing), but we still have no idea what Charlie's final fate will be.