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Horror film with nerve-shredding suspense

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HEREDITARY (15)

Modern horror films seldom prioritise nerve-shredding suspense - the kind of creeping dread that sends beads of sweat trickling down your spine.

Writer-director Ari Aster’s twisted family portrait comes close to repeating the feat, only to descend into madness with a loopy final act that will sharply divide and perplex audiences who have been biting their nails down to the cuticle for the previous 90 minutes.

Hereditary performs a cinematic striptease, holding our gaze (even when we want to look away) by peeling away the layers of darkness and deceit that condemn one grief-stricken family led by miniaturist artist Annie Graham (Toni Collette) to a grim fate. Like all stripteases, Aster’s horror thriller ultimately has to bare all and when the film performs its big reveal - with a flourish - we realise we have seen this story many times before.

THE HAPPY PRINCE (15)

Taking its title from a short story for children by Oscar Wilde, The Happy Prince is an elegiac account of the final years of the Irish playwright and poet following his incarceration for gross indecency.

The film is a passion project for director, writer and lead actor Rupert Everett, who slipped effortlessly into Wilde’s skin in 2012 in a revival of David Hare’s play The Judas Kiss.

Everett’s deep emotional connection to his subject is evident in a compelling, nuanced performance which doesn’t shy away from the self-destructive impulses that led Wilde to his grave during a tumultuous exile in France at the turn of the 20th century. His fall from grace is agonisingly slow and painful, and the script takes its time to explore the various personal relationships that sustained Wilde in his twilight years and also tore him apart. The script is peppered with bon mots that hint at the dying genius of a man, whose great sin was to be afflicted by “the love that dare not speak its name”.

It took almost 120 years for Wilde to be granted a posthumous pardon. Therein lies true shame