If you’re looking for the WTF?!? movie of the Sommar, look no further than writer/director Ari Aster’s sophomore feature, Midsommar.
Following the 2018 horror hit Hereditary, Aster dives back into themes of grief, relationships, and family but, this time, instead of a dark, shadow – filled house in suburban Utah, we get a bright, vibrant, and colorful village in the middle of nowhere Sweden.
We follow Dani, played flawlessly by Florence Pugh (“Fighting With My Family“, “Lady Macbeth”), as she struggles to cope with a recent traumatic event, while simultaneously dealing with the troubled relationship with her boyfriend Christian, Jack Reynor (“Sing Street”, “Free Fire“).
Christian and his friends, Mark, played unexpectedly hilarious by Will Poulter (“We’re the Millers”, “The Maze Runner”), and Josh, William Jackson Harper (“Paterson”, “The Good Place (TV)”) are heading to Sweden for a Midsommar festival at the home of their friend Pelle, Villhelm Blomgren (“Min papa Marianne”, “The Days the Flowers Bloom”).
Dani finds out about Christian’s trip while at a party, confronts him about it, and is reluctantly invited to tag along for the nine – day festival.
Almost Immediately upon arriving in Sweden, psychedelics are doled out by the locals and ingested by our protagonists, leading to the beginning of one giant bad trip.
This is when the cinematography and special effects go on to great hallucinatory effect.
When the group arrives at the rural village, we are immersed in a blinding, slightly overexposed color scheme that is definitely one of the standout aspects of Midsommar. The cinematography, done brilliantly by Pawel Pogorzelski, plays up the bizarreness and enormity of the seemingly small town.
The wide shots in particular show just how small and insignificant the main characters are compared to the village itself.
Along with the camera work, the score here, done by Bobby Krlic, is equally bizarre and unsettling, blending between music being played on screen and off, adding to the disorienting feeling the film makes us feel.
Once the festivities of the village begin, our heroes find out that this celebration that happens only once every 90 years, is not the party they though it would be. I won’t go into detail about the goings on of the village, as to avoid spoiling some truly horrific imagery, but let’s just say that after dinner on the first (or second?) “night”, bodies begin to pile up.
I question the day, or time of day, because in this particular part of Sweden, at this particular time of year, it is daylight almost 24 hours a day, which also ads to the disorienting nature of the film. “What time is it?” “9:00PM.” “That can’t be right, the sky is blue.” “This is what 9:00PM is like here.”
About halfway through the movie, I think, I was wondering what day it was at the festival and just how far along into the film we were. This wasn’t because the film is boring, it was more to orient myself in the real world.
That being said, the film does however, drag a bit in between the shocking scenes. Again, the film is never boring, but it could have been trimmed a bit timewise or had scenes swapped out to engage the audience some more during the second act.
The last act, however, is about as WTF?!? as a wide release summer movie will get this year. Again, nospoilers, but the film goes from meandering to batsh*t real quick.
The third act performances by both Reynor and Pugh, but particularly Pugh, were mesmerizing to watch. As in Hereditary, Aster seems to know the right buttons to push on his actors to go beyond the limits of what we have seen of them before.
It is the sheer talent on display here that makes Midsommar truly something special. Although the film meanders too much during the second act, the technical aspects of it are fantastic and worth seeing on the big screen. If you’re in the mood for a long, artsy, psychological dramedy/thriller, breakup movie,this might just be the film for you.
3rd July 2019
THE QUICK SELL
A couple travels to Sweden to visit a rural hometown's fabled mid-summer festival. What begins as an idyllic retreat quickly devolves into an increasingly violent and bizarre competition at the hands of a pagan cult.