Frankly, I have no idea where this review is going to go until I just dive right in, which to be fair, is exactly how everyone should go into Midsommar.
I can not be alone, but Ari Aster made a hell of a name for themselves last year with Hereditary. I gladly caught it in the theatres three times and have been anxiously anticipating for Midsommar (or a follow-up in general) ever since. He has a clear voice about these bonds that are astonishing to witness.
That hasn’t disappeared for this film. Early on I already was amazed, from some of the “minor” camera movements to some of the humour of the film. Depending on the next sentence and your reaction should indicate if you should keep reading the rest of this review. Mild spoiler: it’s very funny. And this by far is a huge win. While with his previous film he plays in this intensity of how close can he bring you to the edge without pushing you over, he allows you to play in this horror epic. Yes, horror epic. At a run time of 2 hours and twenty minutes, I was ready to live in their world for another hour. The length is never, ever felt.
The comedy is pitch-perfect and hits you at all the right times. And vice versa, the film allows you to jump right into the scares just as you’re laughing. Here’s the thing, I think I might like this film more – but it isn’t as overall scary.
To keep spoilers to a minimum, our hero of the story is Dani (Florence Pugh). She is in a relationship with Christian (Jack Reynor) and the relationship is slowly sputtering out. Christian has plans to go on a trip to Sweden with his friends Josh, Mark and Pelle (William Jackson Harper, Will Poulter and Vilhelm Blomgren). Christian keeps it a bit of a secret from her and this causes issues for them. At the same time, Dani goes through a family tragedy which makes her tag along for the adventure of their lifetime. Pelle comes from a small town from Sweden and they hold a festival on the summer solstice. And it is one hell of a festival. Filled with unique beliefs and dangerous competitions, it’s a festival for the ages.
The audience I saw the film wasn’t really ready for it, but I was. And I wanted to live in it, but like, from afar. It’s a fascinating anthropological look – which is exactly what they were there on their trips for, to help come up with a thesis. It feels super appropriate for William Jackson Harper after him as Chidi for the forever wonderful The Good Place. It almost feels like a great companion piece.
The attention to detail and the set design is amazing. It’s minimal but feels so specific that it felt as if I truly was setting foot in one of these worlds. I wish horror films like these were released in IMAX because I would die to see some of the majestic sets on the biggest screen possible.
It makes you ask how can you be a better person, but also, who are we in relationships. We’ve all been in relationships where we are the toxic person or dating someone who can be. And we’ve definitely held onto the other person for longer than we should – even though all our friends are aware of how we’ve been wanting to get out for a year. Regardless, it’s these choices and we find ourselves with and among that help dictate. Will you turn on your friends or be supportive. In reality, Midsommar is much more than just a horror film – which excites me when Ari has spoken about how he wants to direct other genres before returning to the genre once again. While I believe he’s made another home run, I’m far more intrigued in how he can make me uncomfortable without using strong visceral gore and terrifyingly good music.
Please don’t miss out on Midsommar, please acknowledge that we are living in a world where Ari Aster is able to make movies because the way he uses his cameras and direction as he rips himself open to tell these super personal stories. I for one, am very happy we are living in a post-Hereditary and soon to be post-Hereditary, but I’m looking forward to him tackling a comedy.