Midsommar is the highly anticipated return of writer and director Ari Aster, following his award-winning hit Hereditary in 2018.
First, Midsommar will not be everyone’s cup of tea as the film takes its time to develop and is such a unique and strange experience not seen in many of today’s modern horror flicks. Instead, Midsommar is a different type of horror film. Like Hereditary, it twists and turns in its narrative, ultimately ramping up the tension till the insane last 30 minutes.
The film focuses on Dani (Florence Pugh) and Christian (Jack Reynor) whose relationship is put under pressure after Dani suffers a tragic loss. Christian invites Dani and his friends’ trip to Sweden to take part in a secretive pagan cult-celebration, where things soon take a sinister turn.
The up-and-coming filmmaker treated audiences to a sinister, dread-soaked fairytale earlier this summer starring: Florence Pugh (left), Jack Reynor (middle), and Will Poulter (right) – all of whom are young British talents.
Aster showcases his talents as a writer in his use of the horror genre as a filter for relaying relatable and familiar themes (such as family and mental health in Hereditary, and relationships in Midsommar), enabling his presentation of them to feel fresh.
Midsommar, whilst having its unique vision, feels heavily influenced by other horror films i.e.,1973’s The Wicker Man. However, Aster’s direction combined with the fantastic cinematography of frequent collaborator Pawel Pogorzelski helps create their unique, sun-soaked fairytale world that slowly unravels into a nightmare.
Acting-wise, the main cast is largely made up of promising British actors, such as Florence Pugh who puts in a fantastic performance as the struggling Dani. Pugh is tasked with creating a realistic portrayal of a woman on the edge, desperately trying to prevent her relationship, already destined to fail, from fragmenting under such further. Irish actor Jack Reynor also performs well as her ignorant boyfriend Christian. Will Poulter, playing Christian’s friend Mark, provides much needed comedic relief in a film where dark comedy is already sprinkled throughout.
Aster showcases his talent as a director by creating an incredibly atmospheric and disturbing film despite it being shot entirely in daylight.
As stated earlier, Midsommar takes its time to establish its characters and setting, running at a lengthy 2 hours 18 minutes. However, the film never drags, instead, it keeps you hooked with its interesting visuals and relatable characters and themes. Similar to Hereditary, it relies less on the clichéd jump scares expected of most modern horrors, opting instead for drawn-out sequences, such as its harrowing opening scene or crazy surreal drug trips – these techniques masterfully building tension and dread. On the other hand, some scenes arguably go too far. While this is difficult to elaborate on without spoiling elements, the ending of the film, despite being disturbing, wasn’t nearly as well done or unnerving as the ending to Hereditary.
Ultimately Midsommar is a very different kind of Horror film. It stays with you long after your first watch and also rewards multiple viewings with hidden details of foreshadowing scattered throughout. Whilst Hereditary may be the better film overall, Ari Aster is able to improve upon many aspects of his 2018 horror outing with a radically surreal and engaging film that is unlike many other films out there today.
It’s also a great breakup movie!