Shiva Baby ★★★½

Ari Aster's prequel to HEREDITARY, done as cringe comedy. I am only half kidding. SHIVA BABY dives deep into the Jewish-American tradition of mining humor from our anxieties, finding far more pain than laughter. Given the setup, in which all but the very beginning and end takes place in one house during the shiva, it could be staged as a play. But director Emma Seligman has precise ideas about when to show Danielle (Rachel Sennott) looking and being looked at, and SHIVA BABY's widescreen close-ups are agonizingly tense. Ariel Marx's atonal string compositions add to the horror of living out a facade of "normal" family interactions without being able to be honest about relying on being a sugar baby to pay the bills or feeling pulled in 1,000 directions by other people's expectations.