connor’s review published on Letterboxd:
Completely fails at everything it sets out to achieve due to Aster's monotonous, exasperating and overwhelmingly grating ego that stains every frame of this film school graduate shit-show. A film made for Film Twitter users to gawk at every symmetrical shot they can get their hands on. I can practically hear Aster viciously masturbating during every scene where he gets to throw a shitty camera swirl into the mix of this half-baked eyesore. It's so hard not to view this film like anything other than an ego-project due to how indulgent the whole thing is. Every moment of emotion and possible tension generated by the cast and score is immediately squandered by his overbearing techniques. Every long take, tracking shot and swivel is ridiculously distracting and disorienting when the film revolves around the slowest burn ever. What's the point in making your camera work kinetic if it doesn't reflect the intent at all? It's clearly not supposed to be a lively film at all because the pace would move quicker than a fucking snail, so it's fair to question its place in the film. You can't rule it off as it being intentionally disorienting either. It's not intentional discomfort when the "scares" in the film are even less engaging and effective than his appalling attempts at creating his aesthetic vision. How can that make sense? Every frame is retina-searing. I can't tell if it's just genuinely incompetent colouring and lighting or Aster's cum seeping into the frame whenever the audience catches wind of the groundbreaking concept that is "scary but make it daytime".
I could talk about my disdain for the films creative decisions but by far the worst part of the film is easily its lack of nuance and empathy with the topics it presents. He fiddles with ideas of grief, trauma and abuse, yet offers nothing in exchange for his exploitation. Let's call it what it is. Exploitation. Aster has made it clear through his work that he doesn't care for victims of trauma, he just cares about the act that spurred the trauma. Every time he utilises intentionally harmful subjects and imagery, he resists ever approaching with actual empathy and understanding. He revels in the idea that someone, somewhere, will be provoked by what he displays. That's the only possible explanation for it, or he's just a complete and utter moron. The likelihood is the former, and it's stopped me from ever feeling anything other than frustration with his work in the past regardless of its technical accomplishments. So, that being said, it's not necessarily a good start when the opening of Midsommar is a blatant act of demonisation towards a mental condition that Aster clearly does not understand and subsequently promotes the idea that people with mental health issues are to be feared and are inherently evil. Absolutely revolting. His execution of this leaves nothing to interpretation. He lingers on this imagery for no reason other than to inflict harm on his audience. I know he's desperate to not appeal to a general audience but why the fuck would anyone do this without any semblance of empathy and tastefulness. He can't articulate any of his intentions and attempts at inducing fear without utilising triggers and harmful subjects. Amazing as to how so many people have been tricked into thinking that this was any way acceptable because of his flashy presentation of the matter.
The entire film does this. Constantly reaching into the recesses of trauma so it can elicit something that we can identify as "scary". It doesn't take a genius to understand that suicide is inherently upsetting. It doesn't take a genius to understand that sexual assault is inherently upsetting. It's easy to show these things but of course, he doesn't have the understanding or empathy to engage or lecture the viewer with anything other than gore and harmful imagery. After all, how can he lecture something he doesn't care enough about to understand? What we're left with is the same as any other attempt to disturb the viewer. Sophomoric bullshit strewed out in a blinding coating of pastel colours accompanied by obnoxious string segments throughout to further emphasise exactly what you're missing. Actual fear.
It's just such a waste of time. A boring, predictable slog that barely manages to find its footing an hour and a half in and never really does anything after that either. Pugh is terrific, however completely wasted. Its writing is so half-assed and repetitive. Characters walk around fields, see something fucked up, recover from seeing something fucked up, then go back to the fields and wait for the next cult member to treat them to yet another fucked up scenario. No character other than Dani is actually interesting. They all exist to fulfil their one-note purpose and then die in extravagant ways like anyone actually gave a shit about them, to begin with. The main threat, the pagan cult, are so uninteresting and illogical. Their actions exude nothing but unintentional humour and confusion. I don't feel threatened at all by anything in the film due to the lack of atmosphere and present threat. It ends up as a staggering abundance of try-hard and self-indulgent formalism. For what? So it can culminate in a bombastic and headache-inducing finale that thinks it's the most glorious thing to ever sweep the silver screen, blowing the socks off of everyone who DARES watch it? What impression does that leave on anyone in context with the two hours of boredom that preceded it? What else is there to offer bar the aesthetic?
Establishes Aster as a completely derivative, arrogant, hedonistic and hollow director. You can describe the film in the exact same way.
Glad to know retorts to anyone denying this film its title of a horror masterpiece will be greeted with belittlement and arrogant claims that they "didn't get it". It's not that I don't get it, I just don't fucking care.
but fr thanks ari for saving horror king ly <3 🙏