A few thoughts on some recent releases:
I agree with Sabin that A Quiet Place is effectively mounted, and generates suspense in some smart ways -- the concept of creatures only being able to identify victims through sound feels fresh and leads to some very nerve-wracking sequences, the use of silence and sound throughout is extraordinary, and the film gets plenty of mileage out of classic tension generators (like that damn nail). The film also has a more solid than usual emotional core for this type of project -- I was pretty shocked just how swiftly the film went into dramatic territory within its opening moments. All of that said, I thought it had some derivative elements too. The look of the monsters wasn't all that inventive (they were basically a variation on the demagorgon from Stranger Things), the milieu had an obvious antecedent in Signs (aliens invade a farmhouse, complete with cornfield set pieces), and even the climax was basically lifted from Signs as well. So for me, this was a solid genre piece, but certainly not one that amounted to anything more than that.
I DID think Hereditary, for much of its running time at least, offered something a bit more complex and imaginative than your standard haunted house fare. (Go figure that it nabbed that D+ Cinemascore.) From the opening sequences, as the central family deals with the death of its matriarch, it explores some fairly interesting territory surrounding grief and how its characters process it, particularly in a situation where the deceased's relationship to the family she left behind was strained, at best. Then the film moves into pretty demented territory, as things just keep getting more horrifying for this family, and I found this easily the most compelling section of the story -- the supernatural elements are obviously present, but the plot is so grounded in emotionally charged, real-world familial dynamics that I was able to take even the more outrageous story beats fully seriously. (It also helps that the film knows just when to inject black humor into the proceedings, leaning into its more overly preposterous moments with a wink). And it must be said that the presence of Toni Collette is a gift to this movie -- she's terrific, in certainly her best film performance in ages, if not ever, in a role that provides her numerous meaty scenes to make a thoughtful, emotional impact. (Ann Dowd, though in a less challenging role, is of course always a gift to any movie in which she appears as well). And yet despite liking the film for much of its running time, I thought things went a bit south in the last reel, or rather, it turned into a much more typical horror film, a more stylish Paranormal Activity, if you will. It was here that whatever balance the film had between grounded drama and scares dissipated, and it became an affair that, however effectively chilling, became much more difficult for me to take seriously. It is, I think, very much a film worth checking out -- though with a warning to the squeamish -- even if I think it's not as completely successful as its best parts.
It's interesting how different a movie environment Incredibles 2 is entering than its predecessor. When the original opened in 2004, superhero movies were pretty rare -- a couple Spider-Man and X-Men movies over the previous years, with Batman basically on ice (no pun intended) after its last movie debacle. I hope I'd still find the original film a zippy, imaginative entertainment today, but I imagine part of what made it such a kick was that it felt like something fresh (even compared to the previous Pixar efforts). As Sabin says, Incredibles 2 doesn't lack for eye-popping animation, and I found it a pleasant enough watch, with some solid laughs (most of which involve Mr. Incredible trying to be a dad, and anything involving Baby Jack-Jack). But there's a degree to which this movie now feels like yet another cog in the superhero franchise machine -- the climactic action sequence, for instance, felt like something that could have just been lifted from your average Marvel movie. And the plot is a bit undercooked -- did ANYONE get much kick out of the reveal of Screenslaver's identity? The film is also strangely unemotional -- although the first Incredibles didn't have any rip-your-heart-out moments like in Up/Toy Story 3/Coco, the core family dynamic had some dramatic heft to it. This sequel feels more disposable -- not down there with a Cars sequel, but not achieving the increasingly moving heights of the Toy Story installments.