1. The film is meant to be a "meditation on grief and trauma."
"It begins as a family tragedy, and then continues down that path, but gradually curdles into a full-bore nightmare — in the same way that life can really feel like a nightmare, like everything is falling apart," director Ari Aster told Vanity Fair.
2. And if you feel like the film is "two different movies" in one, that was done on purpose.
Aster also told Vanity Fair, "There was certainly a conscious decision to separate the film into two halves that are also completely inextricable from each other, where the two parts actually are the same movie."
3. We never really *see* Charlie in the film — she is Paimon the entire time.
According to Aster's interview with Variety, she is Paimon from the moment she was born. He explained, "There’s a girl that was displaced, but she was displaced from the very beginning."
4. The "dolls" Charlie makes, in particular the one with the pigeon head, end up on the table shrine in Joan's apartment.
And with a crown just like in her drawing. (Because, ya know, Paimon wears a crown!)
5. Historically, chocolate is often associated with sin and temptation — which explains why Charlie (really, Paimon) is obsessed with it.
6. And the evil symbol you see throughout the film really IS the symbol of the demon king Paimon.
According to demonology, "His Character is this which must be worn as a Lamen before thee, etc." — a Lamen, in magical terms, being a symbolic breastplate or necklace.
7. In art history, ants are symbolic of death, decay, and decomposition — which makes sense in the context of Hereditary, too.
Kinda like the ants in Dali's famous "The Persistence of Memory" painting.
8. And pigeons are used as messengers who sometimes carry warnings.
9. The house was actually built entirely on a sound stage in Utah...
Yep — the whole first and second floors, the attic, and TWO versions of Charlie's treehouse were all sets.
10. ...and the miniatures were created back in California by artist Steve Newburn.
Newburn also made miniatures for Team America: World Police.
11. Toni Collette's blood-curdling scream when she sees Steve burst into flames was done in one take.
“It was the last shot of the movie,” said Aster.
12. Also, Collette was not actually looking to do another "heavy" film when the script for Hereditary came along.
She told Time, "I had specifically said, 'I’m sick of heavy, I don’t want to cry all the time at work anymore. I want to make some funny movies.' My agent called and said, 'I know what you said, but you need to read this.' And he was right. I loved it."