Midsommar ★★★

Writer/director Ari Aster really has a thing for dysfunctional family dynamics. "Hereditary" basically gave us the family from hell, and "Midsommar" gives us more of the same. At the center of this horror movie is a couple whose relationship is limping along -- he pretty much won't break up with her because of some recent traumatic events involving a murder/suicide in her family and the guilt he would feel at leaving her. Not the makings of a great romance. It's no wonder then that both find themselves allured, though in different ways, to a psycho hippy community while traveling in Sweden. He's wanted sexually for some mumbo jumbo rituals while she enjoys being embraced by one big damn family, no matter how bonkers they may be.

Aster is an effective filmmaker and knows how to put together images that will unsettle and linger in the viewer's mind for a while. But this movie is too long and too lugubriously paced to be as effective as it might otherwise be. Florence Pugh is really good in the film's first half, but by the end she's so zonked out and hysterical that her performance grows tiresome. It's not really her fault -- it's just that there's far too much movie for her to have to fill.

People who like a hard "R" rating will get their money's worth, but much of what gives the film its "R" rating comes off as silly.

Grade: B