Midsommar ★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Just before the summer solstice ended here in eastern Canada, I decided to watch Midsommar. Honestly, the hype surrounding this film paired with the appropriate timing, I was really hoping this would be great. Sadly, for me it fell quite flat. 

The beginning I thought was fantastic; it totally had my attention and interest and I didn’t expect for that to go away. There was an incredibly disturbing scene early in the film, paired with a very moving performance from Florence Pugh. When the characters travelled to Sweden, I fully got to take in Aster’s stunning visual style, and Bobby Krlic’s extraordinary score. 

But after that exciting introduction to this story, all that followed was an increasingly monotonous array of elaborately-displayed cult rituals, mild psychological horror overshadowed by silly and unnecessary high-schooler drama between side characters, and a very dragged out portrayal of evidence that Dani was being absorbed into the cult lifestyle (so dragged out that you would barely notice it if it weren’t for that final scene). 

Usually in horror films, the main characters are shocked and dismayed by the horrific acts they witness. These characters, for some reason, were not that put off by watching a double-suicide, or finding out their friends were going missing one by one. I would’ve preferred cutting the totally un-scary mating ritual scene — and/or any of the other superfluous ritual scenes —  to show our characters freaking out about their situation, and attempting to rescue their friends or uncover truths about the cult. Yes, if horror characters always acted logically, the films would be boring. But I believe that in this case, the film was boring, and if the characters acted logically it would have made things much more thrilling. 

My last complaint about Midsommar is Aster’s choice of using psychedelics as a tool to induce terror. I think that was a great idea, and extremely fitting for this setting, yet again it fell so flat. When Dani first started to have an anxiety attack on shrooms, I thought oh yes this is going to be terrifying. I’ve experienced bad shroom trips myself, and the negative effects from one can take years to subside. Yet here she is running off terrified into a dark and creepy forest — then nothing. That’s it, she falls asleep and wakes up, totally unshaken. Such a missed opportunity. This same result happens when any of the characters have a psychedelic experience during the film: a little bit of anxiety, but then everything is fine, no big deal. Where are the hallucinations, the panic, the terror? 

Overall it was just disappointing that the film set itself up to be so interesting from the beginning, then seemed to get too caught up with the set, props, and visuals, letting any opportunity for really horrifying psychological experiences pass by.

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