10 Horror Movie Nightmares WITHIN Nightmares

9. Annie And The Ants - Hereditary (2018)


Ari Aster's 2018 occult horror has been a Marmite movie since release; a series of swish horror cliches or a surreal slow burn tragedy? Whatever. This entry is just about that gnarly nightmare within a nightmare scene - and this one is nasty.

Annie (Toni Collette) greives the death of her weird, secretive mother. In fact, her family is plagued with tragedy; her brother committed suicide some years previously, alleging their mother was in some way responsible. Days later, her daughter Charlie is decapitated in a devastating accident and Annie begins to inwardly blame her son Peter, who was driving the car Charlie was leaning from.

She wakes one night and watches a series of ants crawling over her bedroom walls and traces them to Peter's room, watching in horror as they spew from his sleeping mouth. Peter sits up, ants now gone, staring at his presumably sleepwalking mother. She seems fully awake, yet the scene becomes increasingly menacing as she explains to the terrified Peter that she tried to have him aborted. As the argument escalates, they are suddenly both dripping wet, and in a moment, the liquid ignites and Annie wakes up for the second time.

A classic nightmare within a nightmare, as Aster piles on horror after horror. An essay in grief or Rosemary's Baby's baby? That's up to the viewer but one has to commend Aster on his attention to detail and his ability to wring every ounce of tension from a scene.


A lifelong aficionado of horror films and Gothic novels with literary delusions of grandeur...