A lot of people are going to hate MIDSOMMAR. Correction: Modern audiences are probably going to hate Midsommar. They are going to think it’s too weird, too depressing, too unsettling, too gory, not enough jump scares, too weird, not fast paced enough, too long, too weird, not understand what is going on, too weird, too weird, too weird, and too weird. That’s exactly why I kind of loved it though. This is Ari Aster’s second film after the very unsettling and disturbing Hereditary. And while I still prefer that film more right now, the more I think about this film, and the more research I do on ancient Pagan tradition and ways, that could change in the future. Mr. Aster definitely did his God damn homework. There is no denying that the man is talented. For one, he is trying to do something different and more interesting than mainstream horror. Both films he has done look absolutely gorgeous cinematography wise, and he is definitely an actor’s director, getting commanding performances from everyone involved. But the man needs to see a therapist.
Seriously. The opening before the intro starts to roll is very, very, very, very fucked up and deeply unsettling, with disturbing images I haven’t been able to get out of my head and I swear I had nightmares last night about them. The movie then takes a breather, and then becomes a very, very, very, very slow burn, but one that becomes more clastrophobic and more depressing each minute that ticks by. The movie is about a girl named Dani, who after a very recent horrible family tragedy, decides to join her very distant boyfriend and his friends as they travel to Sweden for a festival that occurs every 90 years, unaware they are in the middle of a deeply sadistic Pagan cult. I mention that the boyfriend is very distant for a very specific reason as their relationship is the ultimate catalyst for what happens in the film and the ultimate outcome. See, he was about to break up with her before Dani’s family tragedy occurred, and he feels like he has to stay with her to not look like the asshole.
Where the film goes from there, I dare not reveal, as I feel like the Pagan Gods would set me blaze this very minute revealing anything else, as part of the satisfying and gratifying weirdness is the journey itself. Let’s just say that things get very complicated and more weird than you could possibly imagine. And more gory. If you are not a fan of gory movies, or you are a deeply depressed and unsettling individual, for the love of God DO NOT SEE THIS MOVIE. It might kick you over the edge. Imagine if Paul Thomas Anderson made a horror movie (while on acid), and you’d get pretty close to the final product of this. Just like Hereditary, the film is a nightmare minute after minute, with all the characters being put into weird Pagan traditions and not being able to do anything but follow along. If you want any last minute clues from me before you decide to take this journey, and not get into spoiler territory, I will just say this: if Midsommar weren’t the title, I have the feeling an alternate could’ve been PAGAN HOSTEL.
The cinematography is spectacular, like I’ve mentioned above. Because of the solstice, it doesn’t get dark much right when they get there, looking like the middle of a normal day when it is really 9 pm at night. The main characters take drugs at certain points in the film, and their good/bad trips light up the screen as if we are on that trip right along with them. The weird cult that they run into do some really weird traditional shit, and it’s lit very well, everything all bright and cheery, but combined with the excellent musical score it is really telling audiences that something truly unsettling lies beneath the surface. The only maybe downside to the movie is that while Hereditary was completely unpredictable (especially what happens right before the second act of that film), this film kind of is predictable a bit. After the beginning credits were done, I guessed what was ultimately going to happen, and I was right on the money. Now the film still gave me plenty of visual surprises and some of the arcs and characters went into different subplots I didn’t see coming, but I guessed the ultimate outcome, which if any other outcome was written, I don’t think it would’ve been as satisfying, so the predictability is completely forgiven.
And the acting definitely takes this film to another level. You get the comic relief in Will Poulter, for some reason you get the actual Chidi from The Good Place looking like he’s visiting the actual Good Place, Jack Reynor as the distant but commanding presence boyfriend, and the fantastic Florence Pugh as Dani. She’s been having quite a year, with this and her praised performance in Fighting With My Family. In here, she basically has to portray different instances of grief the entire 2 hour and 30 minute run time. I believed every second of it. Like Toni Collette in Hereditary, if the Academy actually recognized horror films, she would get an Academy Award nomination at the end of the year. But alas, I don’t think the Academy would touch this film with a ten thousand foot long pole. The long run time will drag for many butts in their seats, but it flew by for me because I was so caught up in what was going on.
If you are a individual that hated Hereditary, or just didn’t get it, and like more modern horror films but not the cheap shit, you might want to just stick to Jordan Peele type things and stay far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far away from this. But if you are looking to experiment and want something different than your cheap jump scare “unsettling” cliched bullshit horror, I can’t recommend this film enough. This is a break up horror in the daylight comedy. There are no cheap jump scares at all if that is what you are looking for. If Jordan Peele is calculus, then Ari Aster is Advanced Calculus taken in a abandoned warehouse’s basement. I mean seriously, I’m worried about the guy, does he dream of this shit up every night in his sleep? I do applaud him for doing something different and just hope he has all of these emotions in check and is just really, really good at giving audiences something different to be scared of on the big screen. Right now I really like the film (the other two people I saw this with didn’t care for it all that much). Someday I might think it is a masterpiece, if I can only have the courage to actually watch it again.