When tragedy strikes her family, Dani (Florence Pugh) goes on a trip with her boyfriend Christian (Jack Reynor) and his friends. They travel to Sweden to a remote village partaking in a mid-summer festival. When they arrive, strange things start to happen coming from the townspeople.
Director: Ari Aster
Cast: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, Villhelm Blomgren, William Jackson Harper, Will Poulter
MPAA Rating: R disturbing ritualistic violence and grisly images, strong sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and language
Fun Fact: The original MPAA rating was NC-17 and thirty minutes had to be cut to achieve the R rating.
2018’s Hereditary was a huge hit for me. That film was Ari Aster’s first feature length film and I loved every moment of it. To me I had seen the future of horror and his name was Ari Aster and I was anticipating his next release. When Midsommar was announced I had some expectations for it. They weren’t high or anything, but I had some anticipation since I had enjoyed his previous film so much. Also bringing to my attention was the fact that A24 was the studio behind this film and they have been my favorite production company as of late.
Midsommar was an interesting film to me and I had some mixed emotions to it after seeing it. It took me a bit to really digest in what I had seen and the more that I thought about it the more I started to come to a definite conclusion on how I felt. For one it’s not a scary horror film per say, but an awkward feeling type film. By awkward I mean that it’s unsettling in a good way. The film relies more on psychological horror by actions and words. The moments of silence really bring unsettlement and that’s the creepy part of it. The characters are in a different territory and they have no idea what is going on. As things start to happen you start to feel how the characters feel, and that was the unknown as things are happening. The moments without music really shine and it heightens the tension to a new level that I thought was effective filmmaking. Sometimes the lack of music is a good thing, and this is one of those rare moments that it works.
What really shines in Midsommar is the technical achievements to it. The film is one of the more gorgeous looking movies I’ve seen in a good while. The location of the village with all the sets was beautiful. It felt like you were in the village. The color pallet also shines as it’s vibrant and stands out. The costume design on the characters while basic for a film were nice as well. The people were dressed in white and it stood out with all the other colors in the background. The cinematography work was the best feature of the technical aspects of the movie. The use of the camera in different angles was creative and gave new life to the film. The shots are clean and focused and at the right angles when tension building was needed.
Another shout out I must give to is the performance of Florence Pugh. She is absolutely fantastic as the lead character Dani. This character is going through a lot in the film and Pugh brings the right emotions to the table. We see her journey from the beginning to the end. Her end shot is something that I will never forget after finishing viewing the movie. What’s with unsettling ending shots lately that stick with me? I have no idea, but it works, and I remember the film in a more positive light that way.
Now let’s get to the parts that left me mixed and that is the script. It’s not the strongest one to say the least and it’s kind of disappointing that way. The first twenty minutes we see the reason why Dani is going through her emotional journey and after that twenty minutes it isn’t referenced that much. It would’ve been nice if they focused more on the grief about what Dani is going through. We see what happens and that’s about it. Another thing that might turn some away is it takes awhile for something to happen. It’s a slower paced film and it isn’t until about the hour mark something faster starts to happen. For most of the first half the main characters are getting high and those parts are not the most exciting. While I didn’t mind that some might think that would be boring and I can understand why they would feel that way. There are two characters that we don’t know much about apart from the main group. So, at one point I didn’t care if they lived or died because I didn’t know anything about them.
One thing that I took away from Midsommar was that it has heavy The Wicker Man influences. It has the same pagan cult story with a person that is getting into something with the situation getting worse as time goes on. A structure of some sort goes up in flames and there are scenes of naked woman chanting in both films. It’s interesting to see the similarities, but I don’t think Aster was ripping anything off.
Overall, if I had to describe Midsommar in one word it would be interesting. It’s more of a psychological horror film that takes a while to get to the point. While it’s slower moving, I didn’t think it was boring. The performance of Florence Pugh is excellent, and I wish they would’ve gone a bit deeper into her character and the grief she was going through. The thing that really brings the film to life is the technical aspects of the film. It’s a gorgeous looking film and it’s one of the more beautiful looking movies I’ve seen in a while. The cinematography is creative, and it brings a certain life with the different angles that are shot. I would recommend you seeing it if you want to see something a little different then what you are used to.