What makes this movie tick? It’s all in the performances: The incredibly versatile Toni Collette plays Annie, an artist who works from home constructing intricately designed miniatures of her own life. When her elderly mother dies, Annie’s family, which includes Byrne as her distant husband, Wolff as her aloof son, and Shapiro as her troubled daughter, is thrown into a crisis. For its first 40 minutes or so, the film plays like a strange psychodrama in the vein of Michael Haneke, but then an unspeakable event occurs about halfway through and the tension skyrockets.
Annie visits a friendly medium and begins to communicate with the dead. She sleepwalks and has terrifying nightmares; a supernatural force has descended upon the house. Aster directs the hell out of the movie’s harrowing final stretch, which will likely leave some viewers scratching their heads, but Collette is the real MVP, throwing herself into a demanding role with unwavering commitment.