Midsommar ★★½

At a Q&A afterwards, Aster remarked that he only had these two horror films banked among his old screenplays and otherwise had a lot of other genres in mind he's eager to tackle. It's kind of incredible he doesn't have hundreds of more horror films banked though because thus far, they're incredibly interchangeable. It's almost stunning how much this plays like a Madlibs version of HEREDITARY (or vice versa) and yet somehow gets even more of a pass from certain critical realms despite very deliberately being "about" next to nothing once again.

Mutilated heads? Innocuous symbols the camera lingers on for far too long that never amount to anything? Mental illness briefly touched upon in the first 10 minutes, then hardly interrogated again? Climaxing in an obtuse rite of passage that was less a result of compellingly unique taste and more a result from a random Wikipedia page generator? Character motivations mysteriously checking themselves at the door once bodies start piling up? A woman getting lip service in the lead role only to be consumed in the end by macho rituals? Objectively dead relationships that are more unpleasant to sit through than the exploitative murders? Naked bodies of old people being treated as...unsettling, I guess ( w h a t is his deal with this)? Stoner humor punching up an otherwise dreadfully drawn-out script? A complex portrayal of grief that amounts to.....a richly detailed portrait of women frequently screaming and men just being blase about it? Set design and cinematography carrying more than their fair share of the water for the whole enterprise? A dream sequence inserted into the middle an already bloated film that tells you....essentially nothing about the character relationships that the preceding 90 minutes didn't already beat over your head and the remaining 45 (!) minutes won't alter whatsoever? The closest thing to an improvement upon HEREDITARY is that this film has....An Ending *About* Its Lead Character. A remarkable cinematic feat, to be sure. Like darling-for-a-moment Nicholas Winding Refn before him, Aster can occasionally frame a pretty picture but can hardly make it about anything tangible for actual living humans. Also like NWR, his taste isn't even Out There enough to get under your skin - when he delivers moments patently designed to make one loathe or love him, I mostly end up just checking my watch for the time. Films like these make it clear why Fincher demands 200+ takes of every scene.

At the Q&A, he also remarked that the kills are the least interesting part of the film for him and it shows, as most of them are trotted out with either cartoon-ish aplomb or sub-HANNIBAL (the TV show) conviction. Aster may not have any horror films left in him, which is something to be thankful for as they clearly bore him. I just wish he admitted that he never had any horror movies in him to begin with and saved us all the trip to Sweden.

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