Midsommar is a mesmerizing film unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It is intense, unflinching, surprisingly funny and quite honestly… not all that scary. Most of the movie’s effect comes from its sheer brutality and ominous atmosphere. It doesn’t hold back in showing us the awfully gruesome things it has to offer, but, like most of the characters in the film, we welcome it; we can’t wait to see what happens next.
It’s one of the observations I made after letting the film sit for a bit longer… Most, if not all, the characters in the film are helplessly tied to the events that unfold; you might even say they’re fascinated by it all. There is little resistance from the protagonists as many of the festivities come off as ritualistic acts they are tricked, conned or literally drugged into.
There are a lot of comparisons to be made to Ari Aster’s knockout debut Hereditary. Both films have a similar style, redefine genre conventions and both deal with overcoming grief and loss in their own unique ways. It makes you wonder: “Who hurt you Ari?”
Pain in Midsommar comes from many places; of those places, loss and grief are the main sources of despair for our main character, Dani. The film focuses on Dani, her boyfriend Christian, and their friends’ trip to the Swedish countryside to research and experience the midsommar festivities performed there once every 90 years. Still recovering from some horrifically tragic news she received months prior, Dani begins to questions the loyalty and love of her significant other. And thus, the canvas is set for the nightmarish festival that follows.
Midsommar oozes style; the cinematography is amazing, the editing is some of the most brilliant work I’ve seen this year. The film overall is more focused on captivating and intoxicating its audience than scaring it, most of the violence happens off-screen, unknown to both characters and the audience alike; we are on this journey with them. The film treats its audience as active participants rather than onlookers. We’re getting slipped drugs in our drinks and are led by the hand from one beautifully macabre set piece to the other. The perfomances are equally as amazing and captivating, Florence Pugh who I had only seen in Fighting With My Family absolutely destroys it as Dani; also worth mentioning are Jack Reynor as Dani’s dismissive asshole boyfriend Christian and Will Poulter as the ignorant American-tourist-type Josh. The characters all seem distant from reality and from the audience, except Dani and it feels as though that in itself is for a reason.
The film wanted to take me for a slow, atmospheric, and psychedelic ride and I let it. It’s the kind of disturbing tale that one wants to look away from but can’t; it pulls you in further and further. At one point, I was so involved and mesmerized that I had legitimately forgotten I was sitting in a theater full of other people. It’s what I imagine doing shrooms would be like, though hopefully not as nightmarish.
This is the kind of film I’d recommend to people just to hear of their experience and thoughts on, but by no means do I expect people to love it as much as I did. I’ve already seen plenty of polarizing opinions and believe that, much like Hereditary, this is a love-it or hate-it sort of gig.
For me, it’s another fantastically stylized unique spin on the horror genre. It’s a nightmare fueled by rage, grief, drugs and pure dread; a sunny little tale about death and heartbreak. Ari Aster has done it again. If he truly is taking a break from horror, I anxiously await to see what direction he’ll take on next. He’s two for two in my book.
9 days of feasts and fun out of 10