Josiah Morgan’s review published on Letterboxd:
It’s another wonky masterpiece from Ari Aster. It’s equally misguided, perhaps, in the way it sets up an anthropological conceit — it paradoxically satirises and wants to buy into the discipline and in doing so Others the Swedes; which could be a potential problem come the ending.
But Aster works so hard and so effectively to position Pugh as an accepted other (likely due to her lack of professional interest) that when the ending rolls around it satisfies anyway — and this one is SIGNIFICANTLY better than Hereditary’s close.
One of the key reasons Pugh’s Metamorphosis from foreign being to accepted other works is because of the way this film deals with the Pastoral genre. Where the Swedish idyll is predominantly grounded in traditionally feminine constructions (and these traditional constructions can’t be ignored considering the consistent misunderstandings of the male anthropology doctorates; men who for all intents and purposes should be relatively acclimated to nuanced gender presentation); the feminine becomes a haven of purity/protection/faith against an external world. The ‘horror’ of Midsommar is that of an infected pastoral; but the pastoral land itself actually remains a utopian arena of wish fulfilment — breaking patriarchal shackles.
Finally, there’s also some complicated stuff in here about art and theatricality. The Swedes continually stage performances for the visitors in an increasingly uncanny manner. Ultimately, the ‘performances’ that are staged within this commune are rites of passage; often taking away the American-ness of the Americans and inviting them into the native community. This is where the minor Texas Chain Saw reference comes in handy (in the face stealing sequence); as two competing ideological desires are grafted into the same body.
It’s a more mature film than Hereditary and a welcome progression for Aster. I’m there on the first day for what he does next.