Midsommar ★★★½

Hereditary’s a tough act to follow.

While that film was starkly ‘horror,’ pieced together with all the precision of an artisan watchpiece, Midsommar is harder to pigeonhole — it contains horror, certainly, but not wound quite so tight. It’s a sprawling affair, languid in its pacing, mercurial. And, dare I say, a little sloppy.

Ari Aster’s established preoccupations are all accounted for; his idiosyncratic editing is especially noticeable, and might be the movie’s biggest strength. He juxtaposes comedy with horror with tragedy in a far more boorish, extreme manner here that’s no less nauseating for all its obviousness, although I do fear that audiences will grow wise to Ari’s tricks in a short matter of time if he continues in that direction.

Would that be so bad, though? Probably not. Ari Aster is the first genre filmmaker I’ve seen in years with a definable voice and style that, derivative though it can be, is deeply his own. But where Hereditary draws from, say, The Shining, Midsommar feels instead like a descendant of The Holy Mountain. Something is missing, though. Could be he’s being slightly too coy this time around, tongue planted too firmly in cheek. The themes are there, but murky, and spread much too thin.

Nonetheless, a true sense of dread pervades the film, ominous and powerful, and I can’t remember the last time I felt nauseated in a theater. Yet it feels like he’s giving us too much, and simultaneously not nearly enough.

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