Midsommar ★★★★★


"Welcome, and happy Midsommar. Skål!"

Often calculating, hilarious, and terrifying; Ari Aster is a fascinating one to watch. I wasn't too hot on Hereditary but it was impossible to look away throughout. It's just the same here, yet what Aster does here, and how he weaves it in the prevalent themes, and I think he hit a home run here. For sure this warrants a re-watch, but I loved how this came together at the end. The closing shot is an all-timer, and I don't think it can be beaten this year.

Compared to Hereditary which contained several memorable scenes, but it just didn't land with me as a whole, Midsommar shouldn't have worked the way it did. It's certainly helpful when you have a fantastic Florence Pugh at the center, and boy she is absolutely terrific here. She performs with ease, and I'd like to know how Aster is able to capture a reaction like that from Pugh and Collette in Hereditary. Anyway, the look of this film is absolutely captivating. Bright and colorful with just the right amount of dread that stays with you throughout. Hats off to the sound design team, in which played a very big part in allowing myself to get immersed.

After a family tragedy, Dani (Florence Pugh) decides to join her boyfriend (Jack Reynor in a truly despicable role) and his friends to attend a midsummer festival in Sweden. There, they find themselves in what turns out to be a cult. If you've seen The Wicker Man, this might be right up your alley. It does indeed owe itself to The Wicker Man but this may well place itself next to it as a quintessential cult film. Where The Wicker Man indeed has its moments of genuine intelligence, Midsommar is often more emotionally manipulative, and that's a good thing. It relies on your visceral reactions, and takes you for a trip(s).

Midsommar may not be for everyone, but it's the rare two and half hour horror (and comedy) film that actually has something to say. It's helpful to have a terrific cast of characters, with a phenomenal Florence Pugh at the center. It's weird, but purposely weird. Despite not being infatuated with Hereditary, I think it's still the better film, but this was truly an experience that I won't soon forget. It earns that running time, and with the talks of a NC-17 cut that runs at nearly 3 hours, I'm sold. Aster could've delivered a tighter film, but a part of me thinks if he thinned it out, it might've lost some of the oomph that the final shot really delivers. For those who seek something unconventional in films, Midsommar is a must-see. You may love it or hate it, but it's unforgettable all the same.

All hail the May Queen.

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