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The Lamb in “Hereditary”

by MoviesPlusBooks 8 months ago in movie review
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Early in the film, two symbols stand out

Inside Annie’s model of her family home

Before the viewer moves away from the window in the first moments of the film, a fly can be seen on the window sill. After a moment, it takes flight and, presumably, moves toward Annie’s model along with the camera.

The ominous musical score is punctuated at first by an etheric voice emanating not from any particular direction, but out from the empty space in the room.

The music swells in volume and intensity, and the sound of hooves rapidly clapping against the ground creeps in. These elements together hint at the approach of some invisible force coming from the void and entering Annie’s model home.

FLY

They breed from corruption and decay, carry the germs of the foulest diseases and breach all defenses against them. They symbolize a ceaseless quest.

[ The ] ancient Syrian deity, Beelzebub, is the ‘Lord of the Flies’, and ‘prince of demons.’ ¹

The presence of the fly suggests that the entity approaching the house a is profoundly undesirable one. The first room of the house that the viewer enters is Peter’s room. Presumably, the essence of the fly is not far behind.

In Peter's room, a ray of light passes over him as he sleeps. There’s a telescope covered by his jacket in the corner of the room. A metaphorical theme is being strongly emphasized; Peter is asleep. He is in the darkness below the light. His "eye" towards the heavens is obscured, and so he is oblivious to the spirit world buzzing and groaning around him and his family.

The father, Steve, places a suit down onto Peter while he sleeps, kicking up some dust that's been accumulating on the bed. It’s as if Peter’s been sleeping for days, or even weeks.

Steve then goes to fetch Peter’s sister, Charlie, who is sleeping in the treehouse. Inside, two boxes of Hercules Powder are turned on their side, serving as columns holding up a table for Charlie’s shrine. Among the shrine’s possessions are bird feathers, a nest, and some candles.

The suit that Steve dropped on Peter’s bed is for a funeral. Annie’s mother has passed away, and in the next scene we see all four family members attending a memorial service in her honor. Annie is suprised by how many people have showed up to say goodbye to her mother. What's also quietly concerning to her is that she doesn't recognize many of them.

Charlie watches as a line of attendees views the body of the deceased. She spots a man with an eager and eerie grin on his face, almost as if he’s excited in anticipation of something.

Charlie takes a bite of her chocolate bar. She watches as a woman uses her middle finger to touch the lips her deceased grandmother.

Back home now and Annie tucks Charlie into bed. The young girl is wearing white, wooly pajamas and resembles a lamb. Charlie’s demeanor is one of defensive angst, as if she is also anticipating the arrival of an unwelcome guest.

Charlie is the sacrificial lamb

LAMB

[ The lamb ] signifies purity, innocence, meekness (as well as unwarranted sacrifice).¹

It is also related to (fire) and so is a sacrificial symbol of the periodic renovation of the world.

Annie later finds a message from her mom in the basement. Hidden away in a box, it reads:

“Our sacrifice will pale in comparison to the reward.”

The music swells again as Annie then sees a figure hovering in the dark after she turns out the lights — what appears to be an apparition of her deceased mother.

Sources:

1. The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols

Images:

All images from https://movie-screencaps.com/

More:

The House in “Hereditary”

The Lamb in “Hereditary”

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About the author

MoviesPlusBooks

Weird but sincere notes on movies, books, dreams, & travel

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