Aswin Sivaraman’s review published on Letterboxd:
* festive silent jazz hands * 🙌🏽
Ari Aster’s sophomore film certainly goes up a notch in terms of production and sound work, while indulging in the same tropes of cultish rituals and folklore as did his first film Hereditary. The all-around amazing performance of Florence Pugh and the accompanying Swedish ensemble made the film that much more intriguing, making the 127-minute runtime bearable and for the most part enjoyable.
But, unlike his first film, Midsommar strangely felt more predictable? Like there was too much foreshadowing of all the shocking moments to come. I kept waiting for that scene which would psychologically scar me and let the film linger in my mind, but that scene never came.
There then, in the moments when the credits rolled, is when I came to the conclusion that Ari Aster’s two horror works so far are both high-production lore-laden highbrow-seeming works, vacuous shock value driven experiences which never quite make a statement or never quite let us connect with any of the characters. So then, with this lack of pathos, I feel quite empty coming out of this movie, unchanged and unphased. It is indeed, a Wes Anderson level artistic work, but not much more than a trite Charlie and the Chocolate Factory coated with Swedish pseudo-folklore and oodles of sunlight.
Modern masterpieces like The Witch, also a horror film packed with lore and aesthetics, still stand a class above for some reason. I remain optimistic for Ari Aster’s future works—now that he’s sort of found a signature style to his filmmaking, it would be nice to watch something a bit more substantive.