Thursday, July 18, 2019

Movie Review: "Midsommar" (2019)

Director: Ari Aster
Year: 2019
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours, 27 minutes

Dani and Christian are a long-term couple whose relationship is on shaky ground. After suffering a family tragedy, out of pity, Dani is asked to accompany Christian on a trip to a Midsommar festival at a village in rural Sweden that he and his college roommates were planning on attending. This celebration, however, may have more sinister intentions as Dani, Christian, and his friends get fully immersed in this village's strange customs.

A24's 2019 Midsommar movie review and movie still where Jack Reynor comforts a crying Florence Pugh in a forest
"I just had to pee. I didn't know it was special." (Image Source)
Ari, are you ok? Are you ok? Are you ok, Ari? "Midsommar" is written and directed by Ari Aster, who made his feature film debut last year with the critically acclaimed A24 movie "Hereditary," a genuinely disturbing horror flick that we loved. "Midsommar" revolves around a young woman named Dani (Florence Pugh), who is in a codependent relationship with her longtime boyfriend Christian (Jack Reynor). Dani has a life full of family drama and is always leaning on Christian for support, but he is tired of it all and wants to break up with her. He is urged to do so by his friends/roommates Josh (William Jackson Harper), Mark (Will Poulter), and Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren), but hems-and-haws about it because he doesn't want to look like a jerk. Dani's family drama comes to a head when her sister does something unimaginable. Out of pity, Christian invites Dani on the trip he was planning with his roommates to visit Pelle's home, a rural village in Sweden. Since they are all anthropology students, they are going on the trip to experience the unique culture of this village's Midsommar festival. When they arrive, things are drastically different than they imagined, and their presence may have a far greater purpose than them attending as mere graduate scholars.
Florence Pugh cries on the floor surrounded by Swedish women in a movie still for Ari Aster's horror film Midsommar
"The queen must ride alone." (Image Source)
Holy. Motherforking. Shirtballs. Ari Aster knows what the hell he is doing. "Midsommar" is a psychological horror drama that explores themes of grief, religion, and codependency. It's not full of monsters, jump scares, and other genre tropes, it's a film that thrives in building its unsettling mood from start to finish. Aster puts the protagonist/s in an unfamiliar situation and location, then adds a thick layer of tension and a lingering feeling of constant dread. In typical Ari Aster fashion, he lulls the audience into a sense of complacency, then throws in a few moments of graphic, disgusting, shocking, unforgettable gore when they least suspect it. Some viewers may be turned off by the film's long runtime and methodical pacing. This wasn't the case for us because we were taken in by Aster's ingenious, artful direction and bonkers storytelling. Seriously though, they can't all be 87 minutes long. Speaking of the direction, that's one of the best things about this movie. The shots are visually striking, the cinematography is breathtaking, and the editing and cuts are handled with pin-point precision and expert crafting. Scenes are blended together seamlessly to help the audience relate to Dani's hurt, anger, and confusion as she goes through one of the most trying experiences of her life. The ever-flowing, undulating scenery aids in creating a sense of uneasiness throughout the film, disorienting us and making us question everything happening right before our eyes. Second to the direction is the acting, which is fantastic all around. Florence Pugh offers a performance that is both nuanced and powerful. Jack Reynor plays a character who is conniving, manipulative, and self-serving with ease. When thrown into a situation with bizarre customs, mushrooms, doubt, jealousy, and angst, this ill-fated pair becomes a toxic timebomb of destruction, anguish, and gaslighting. It's horrific (and simultaneously, wickedly fun) to watch unfold.
Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper and Vilhelm Blomgren stand and watch in horror in a movie still for A24's film "Midsommar"
"This is the big one." (Image Source)
"Midsommar" is not a mass appeal kind of film, but for people who crave newness and/or slow-burn horror movies similar to 1973's "The Wicker Man," this may be just the ticket. Ari Aster continues to impress us in this his sophomore feature, and we cannot wait to see what other wonderfully terrible things he has up his sleeve as time goes on.

My Rating: 8.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.7/10
RT Rating: 82%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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  1. Sounds fascinating for when I want to feel grim and disturbed.

    1. It is totally bonkers at times, and utterly gross at others. It has lingered with us since we saw it a week ago. Not for the faint of heart, that's for sure!!