Directed by Ari Aster [Other horror films: Hereditary (2018)]
I went into Midsommar with admittedly high expectations. I wasn’t that much a fan of Hereditary (and just to get this out of the way, I definitely think Midsommar’s a better movie), but from the get-go, the trailer for this one intrigued me, and though the movie is almost more an experience than just a film, it’s certainly an experience that I’ll remember.
There’s a longer version out there (one that runs at two hours and 52 minutes), but I just saw the two hour and 30 minute version. Just two hours and 30 minutes. Hahaha, yeah, this movie was a long one, and I know that some people thought it wasn’t warranted by the content, but I think the increasingly uneasy feel that the characters get from their surroundings and mysterious circumstances help increase enjoyment.
Florence Pugh was put through the wringer in this one and gave a fantastically emotional performance (that shocking opening sequence was more than enough, but the movie kept throwing stones at her character). As interesting a character as Pugh’s Dani was, though, I personally think that William Jackson Harper’s Josh was a very stellar character himself. His already-existing knowledge was interesting (him asking if it was going to be a real ättestupa, and then getting all quiet, added a lot of dread). To be sure, his character made a rather idiotic mistake, but I think he’d have made an interesting focal point.
Both Will Poulter (who I recognized from We’re the Millers – talk about a different type of movie) and Jack Reynor were dicks in their own way, Poulter being the most annoying, but Reynor’s character being one of the worst. I can’t say that I don’t feel a bit bad for him come the ending, but the way he treats Dani throughout the film was contemptible. Vilhelm Blomgren as Pelle was another unique character, and was one of the kindest to Dani, so at least that was nice.
Being Ari Aster, there was a definite beauty in the carnage. During the tense ättestupa ceremony, which was probably the earliest indication that something was definitely wrong there (if you can ignore the somewhat grisly banner indicating how a woman can get a man to fall for her). It’s a very tense scene, each second longer squeezing out unease, and it’s no surprise when the two individuals jump, or the gory conclusions.
And no doubt there are other disturbing scenes of violence, one that especially struck me as brutal, being an individual captive who long should have been dead, instead being ritualistically dismembered yet still on the verge of life. The maypole dance was strangely enchanting, the psychedelic drugs definitely hyping up the uncomfortable aura, all of which finishes off in the mysterious triangular structure come the brutal finale (and the composition during the finale – just beautiful).
With the drawn-out nature of Midsommar, not to mention the already stylistic feel of the film, it being Aster’s work, Midsommar isn’t an easy movie to digest or one that I suspect many would quickly watch a second time. It’s a long movie no matter which version you watch, and it’s an uneasy and unforgiving one. I definitely found it a strong addition to the genre, and if anyone’s a fan of The Wicker Man or perhaps Apostle, Midsommar is not a movie that should be slept on.
This is one of the films covered on Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss the film.