Midsommar ★½

Florence, I could've told you to dump his stank ass in less than 147 minutes!

There's one scene in Midsommar that I found to be especially revealing of Ari Aster's work thus far. Fellow grad students Christian and Josh get into a heated argument when Christian lets slip that he's planning on writing his thesis about Hårga, the peculiar Swedish community where the bulk of the action in Midsommar takes place. The thing is, Josh was planning on writing about Hårga as well; in fact, doing so was the entire purpose of their trip, as Christian, who until then was struggling to land on a thesis topic of his own, well knew. "Lazy" and "leechy" ⁠— these are some of the words Josh lobs at Christian to describe his decision to steal his friend's thesis. It also describes Aster, who through two films seems content to piggyback off the ideas and aesthetic of other, greater films and pass it off as his own "elevated" work.

Midsommar
is so insipidly stupid, so in love with its own empty excess, that it retroactively makes Hereditary, a film I don't much care for to begin with, look even worse. Toni Collete's performance was the one thing I did like about Aster's darling debut, but now I'm not so sure. In Hereditary and now again in Midsommar, Aster's oversimplified concept of grief manifests itself solely through images of wailing women. Hysteria. Midsommar adds nothing to that grief narrative, making Collete's technically impressive performance come off looking like shallow showboating in hindsight. They say there's no wrong way to grieve, and that's mostly true, but I've seen my fair share of it up close to safely say that it rarely looks like this.

This is clearly the work of the same empty provocateur behind The Trouble with the Johnsons, a pointless film if there ever was one. The supposed critique of Americentrism at work in Midsommar is in such bad faith that it's almost offensive to the pagan cultures it wants to dignify in its sick way. People really think this shit is funny? The only intentional humor I could find was predominantly coming from Will Poulter's Mark, a character so comically boorish that anything funny about his noxious behavior comes across as totally over-determined.

If you're looking for some good folk horror, check out Gareth Evans' Apostle, which is a much better version of this movie. Shit, even the gonzo Nicolas Cage Wicker Man is more inspired.

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