Hereditary ending explained: What the hell was that?

**Spoilers for the 'scariest movie in years' ahead**

Jack Shepherd
Friday 15 June 2018 14:45
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Trailer for Hereditary

The reviews for Hereditary have been phenomenal, the poster littered with five-star reviews from critics.

Yet, the Sundance horror has proven a downer for general cinemagoers. Hereditary has only managed a D+ Cinemascore – whereas the majority of blockbusters earn As and Bs – while the current Rotten Tomatoes users' score sits at 58 percent (compared to 92 percent from critics).

Why the huge gap between critics and the majority of ticket buyers? Well, much of the divisiveness seemingly comes down to the ending, which has rubbed many people up the wrong way. While we’re not here to tell you whether to love or hate director Ari Aster’s debut feature (although our critic adored the film) we can at least have a go at unravelling that surprising, baffling ending.

**Spoilers for Hereditary ahead**

First off, let’s all take a deep breath... Hereditary was a disturbing, horrifying ride that contains riddles upon riddles, all leading to an explosive ending that sees Peter (Alex Wolff) become inhabited by the demon Paimon, one of the Kings of Hell, surrounded by headless cult followers.

What does this all mean? Why was Peter chosen as a vessel for Paimon? Where were the hints that the ‘villain’ was Paimon? How does this all link into the miniature house?

To answer that last question, the miniature house plays a more symbolic role. The Graham family are the playthings for the other-worldly force, Paimon, who initially comes in contact with the family thanks to the now-deceased Grandma Graham, Ellen, the mother of Annie (Toni Collette).

Queen Leigh, as Ellen is known to her cult, wants to bring Paimon into the world as the demon offers riches to all those who follow him (something we discover thanks to the spell book). Unfortunately, though, Leigh cannot become Paimon herself as the demon requires a male body

Trailer for Hereditary

Trailer for Hereditary.

What becomes apparent is that Paimon has been playing with the Grahams for some time. First off, Ellen attempted to sacrifice her own son to Paimon, something revealed during Annie’s town hall therapy session. Annie, though, only knows that her brother died because Mum was “trying to put people inside” of him – that “person” being Paimon.

Ellen tried once again to bring Paimon into the real world through Charlie (Milly Shapiro). Having not been allowed near Peter, she had to work with Charlie, who Annie decided she could be around. Ellen seemingly accomplishes her task: Charlie has Paimon within her throughout the film (hence the creepy clicking and cutting birds heads off).

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Aster has confirmed that Charlie was indeed “the first successful host for Paimon” during an interview with Variety, going as far as to say the demon was inside Charlie “from the moment she’s born.” However, Charlie’s not enough to suffice. Paimon needs a man. (Ellen, we discover, told Charlie she “wished she was a boy”.)

That’s when the task of getting Peter to sacrifice himself to Paimon begins. As we learn from the brief look in the pages of a spell book, the male host must be worn down enough for Paimon to enter the body. The movie, then, becomes the story of Peter going through enough trauma to wear him down so that Paimon can enter his body.

That partly answers our first question (’why Peter?’) but not entirely. Surely, they could have used Dad, Steve (Gabriel Byrne)? As hinted by the film’s title, the male host seemingly had to be someone from the bloodline of Queen Leigh.

So, where were the hints towards Paimon in the film? They were right there from the beginning. Remember that necklace Grandma and Annie were wearing during the funeral? The symbol on that is the real Seal of Paimon. Paimon, in case your demonology knowledge is a little rusty, was not an original creation from the scriptwriters; one of the first mentions of this King of Hell dates back to the 1700s, in a collection of spells titled The Lesser Key of Solomon. The demon was said to be obedient to Lucifer and would come to our world wearing a crown and bearing gifts for followers.

His symbol goes on to make multiple appearances throughout the film (even on the telephone pole Charlie gets beheaded by), but even without knowing exactly what it represents, the symbol was an obvious hint towards something very cult-like going on.

There was also the writing on the wall. Throughout the movie, we see the words ”satony,” “liftoach,” ”pandemonium,” and “zazas” etched into the house. “Satony” seems the most obvious, linked to the word Satan. The second, “liftoach,” is the Hebrew word for “open,” and ”pandemonium” doubles as the usual definition of the world and being the capital of Hell from Paradise Lost. Finally, “zazas” has multiple haunting connotations, being the name of a demon conjured through Ouiji boards. All hint towards a demon.

Back to the funeral at the beginning. Those “strange faces” Annie sees are all members of the cult. And the reason they look at Charlie with smiles is because they know she harbours their demon King. Then there’s Joan (Ann Dowd) who was there the whole time, Queen Leigh’s right-hand sergeant trying to break down the family and allow Paimon/Charlie to be summoned into their home.

These are some of the keys to unlocking the secrets of Hereditary. While there’s so much more to say, hopefully this brief analysis will help understand the weird, disturbing, and outright horrifying world Aster created.

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