Don’t Watch These Movies Alone: HEREDITARY plus 7 Others

No-Spoilers Movie Reviews

Summer movie season is upon us! Whether scary, funny, or profound, there’s a movie out there for everyone. Watch them alone or with others, but I recommend bringing a friend. Especially to the scream-inducing films.

After the family matriarch passes away, a grieving family is haunted by tragic and disturbing occurrences, and begin to unravel dark secrets.

Tagline: Every family tree hides a secret

As we left the movie theater after watching Hereditary, my friend said, “You screamed so loudly at that one scene, it made me more scared!” I spent most of the movie with a fist over my mouth, ready to stifle any shrieks.

Full of creepy, can you believe this? moments, Hereditary is different than other horror films because it spends time on character development and family dynamics. The cast does a magnificent job. If there were any chance the Academy Awards would recognize horror film actors, I’d bet my money on Toni Collette. You’ve never seen her in a role like this before.

Although we caught a late show and I arrived home past my bedtime, I stayed awake another hour reading the movie reviews, for fear of having nightmares if I went to sleep immediately.

Don’t watch this movie alone. You’ve been warned.

  • The Verdict:If you’re going to see just one art house horror film this year, make it this one.
  • Screenwriter and Director: Ari Aster
  • Genre: Drama, Horror, Mystery
  • Running Time: 2 hours, 7 minutes
  • Rating: R

Ocean’s Eight
Debbie Ocean gathers an all-female crew to attempt an impossible heist at New York City’s annual Met Gala.

Tagline: Every con has its pros.

Slick, funny, and full of girl(boss) power. Sandra Bullock’s character strolls through each scene like she owns it. Debbie would be a great role model if she weren’t an unrepentant con artist.

Fun, with great music. Exactly what you want in a summer movie. Bring on Ocean’s 9!

  • The Verdict:Guaranteed fun whether you see it on the big or small screen.
  • Screenwriter: Gary Ross, Olivia Milch, based on characters by George Clayton Johnson and Jack Golden Russell. Director: Gary Ross. Editor: Juliette Welfling
  • Genre: Action, Comedy, Crime
  • Running Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13

First Reformed
The pastor of a small congregation in upstate New York grapples with mounting despair brought on by tragedy, worldly concerns, and a tormented past.

The trailer was a bit misleading but that’s a good thing. A compelling character study and unflinching portrayal of a crisis of faith. Things get uncomfortable and painful, fast. The role of a lifetime for Ethan Hawke and strong supporting performances by Amanda Seyfried and Cedric The Entertainer. That last scene…wow.

  • The Verdict: A must-see for those who love character studies, though not for the faint of heart.
  • Screenwriter and Director: Paul Schrader
  • Genre: Drama, Thriller
  • Running Time: 1 hour, 53 minutes
  • Rating: R

Life of The Party
After her husband abruptly asks for a divorce, a middle-aged mother returns to college to complete her degree.

Tagline: Give life the old college try.

If you like Melissa McCarthy, you’ll love this film, which is full of heart. I prescribe this for people who’ve had a rough day and need laugh therapy.

Not only does McCarthy once again prove she has no fear when it comes to awkward and embarrassing moments, she and her husband/writing partner have created her most likable character to date. The tenderness between mother and daughter elevates the movie, and it’s fun to see divorcée Deanna get her groove back. I’m tempted to buy this one.

  • The Verdict: Guaranteed fun whether you see it on the big or small screen.
  • Screenwriters: Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone. Director: Ben Falcone
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Running Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13

Solo: A Star Wars Story
During an adventure into the criminal underworld, Han Solo meets his future copilot Chewbacca and encounters Lando Calrissian years before joining the Rebellion.

Tagline: Never tell him the odds.

So that’s how Han Solo and Chewbacca met and became BFFs! My life is complete.

Emilia Clarke is always great. I would’ve liked a bigger dose of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s sassy droid L3-37 who had some of the film’s best lines, Thandie Newton’s Val, and Erin Kellyman’s Enfys Nest.

  • The Verdict: Required viewing for hard-core Star Wars fans, naturally. Optional for everyone else.
  • Screenwriters: Jonathan Kasdan, Lawrence Kasdan. Based on characters created by George Lucas. Director: Ron Howard
  • Genre:Action, Adventure, Fantasy
  • Running Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13

The Avengers: Infinity War
The Avengers and their allies must be willing to sacrifice all in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe.

Tagline: Prepare for battle.

Sweet to see the blossomed romance between two Avengers. Hilarious to witness Starlord’s inferiority complex when a certain “pirate angel” comes on the scene. And impressive to experience this ultimate blockbuster movie in which your favorite superheroes from all corners of the globe unite against the biggest villain yet…one who truly has what it takes to end, well, everything.

Be sure to stay for the post-credits bonus scene.

  • The Verdict: Required viewing for hard-core Avengers fans.
  • Screenwriters: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely. Director:
  • Genre:Action/Adventure/Fantasy
  • Running Time: 2 hours, 29 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13

A Quiet Place
In a post-apocalyptic world, a family is forced to live in silence while hiding from monsters with ultra-sensitive hearing.

Tagline: If they hear you, they hunt you.

An intelligent thriller/suspense movie with a dash of horror. The character development and family dynamics set this apart from others in the horror genre. Emily Blunt is always amazing, and to see her on screen with real-life husband, John Krasinski: magic.

  • The Verdict: Wow! See this on the big screen.
  • Screenwriters: Brian Woods & Scott Beck, and John Krasinski. Director: John Krasinski
  • Genre: Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
  • Running Time: 90 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13

Lean On Pete
A teenager gets a summer job working for a horse trainer and befriends the fading racehorse Lean On Pete.

Unusually good coming-of-age story that shows the gritty reality of a teen living on the edge of poverty with his charismatic but irresponsible father. This haunting, beautiful film will feel long to everyone but the most ardent admirer of intense character studies (à la Phantom Thread). Patient moviegoers are rewarded with a mesmerizing hero’s journey by luminous newcomer Charlie Plummer.

Stand-out performances by Travis Fimmel (last seen as an Orc in Warcraft), and veteran character actors Steve Buscemi and Chloë Sevigny; these two hit all the right notes as jaded festival-circuit lifers, horse trainer and jockey.

  • The Verdict: A must-see for those who love character studies, though not for the faint of heart.
  • Screenwriters: Andrew Haigh, based on the novel by Willy Vlautin
  • Genre: Adventure, Drama
  • Running Time:121 minutes
  • Rating: R

Loglines source:

Katherine Valdez is an award-winning author who writes as KatValdezWriter at

Read no-spoilers reviews of books and movies at Secrets of Best-Selling Authors, Receive about two posts per month directly to your inbox by typing your email address in the Follow box. Watch for the confirmation email to complete the process.

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  1. I love these mini-, no-spoiler reviews, Katherine. I learned I would love Ocean’s 8, which I already suspected because Sandra Bullock is one of my favorites, and Life of the Party, because I also love Melissa.

    I also learned I’d best avoid Hereditary because I’m prone to terrible nightmares and this would definitely be a big trigger. Thanks for the heads-up.

    • You’re very welcome, Pat! Glad you find them helpful. So many great movies coming up. I’m going to see Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom today. Enjoy Sandra and Melissa’s movie. Thanks for taking time to comment!

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