Review: ‘Midsommar,’ Always Check Reviews Before Traveling

Following the success of last year’s Hereditary (which
I also reviewed, and you can find here in case you missed it) Ari Aster has taken a second stab at the horror genre
with Midsommar – and sticking with his m.o., he also wrote and directed
it. Just like Hereditary, Midsommar spends time examining human
relationships and how grief can affect people, you know – before all hell
breaks loose. Dani (Florence Pugh), is shaken to the core as a horrific tragedy
befalls her sister and parents. She begins to rely even more on her dumbass
boyfriend Christian (Jack Reynor), who unbeknownst to Dani has been questioning
their relationship for quite some time. Dani and Christian have been dating for
3.5 or 4 years, depending on who you ask. They are both graduate students – allowing
us to presume that they are relatively intelligent (spoiler alert: this
presumption gets adequately tested as the film progresses).
One of Christian’s graduate school friends – Pelle (Vilhelm
Blomgren) is from a small community in Sweden. Pelle wants to bring Christian
and their other graduate school friends Josh (William Jackson Harper) and Mark
(Will Poulter) with him for his hometown’s Midsommar celebration. Christian
halfheartedly extends the invitation to Dani, never thinking she would actually
be accompanying the group. Of course she does, and the five graduate students
find themselves in rural Sweden. Almost immediately, the group gets offered
hallucinogenic mushrooms which kicks off a series of events and, at times, causes
the group to struggle with distinguishing reality from fantasy. As the
midsommar festival continues and the group of friends witness more and more of
the local rituals, the sense of dread in the characters, and film, grows exponentially.
The best parts of Midsommar were the visuals. Unlike
the dark and dreariness we saw throughout Hereditary, Midsommar
is full of color – the flowers, symbols, buildings – all bright and seemingly
welcoming. That is just a surface level facade, as nearly everything has an
underlying sinister element to it.  Aster
certainly has a unique film style that some viewers will be drawn to and others turned
off from. After having seen his past two films, his style is very apparent and
he hasn’t shied away from it yet, and I see no reason that he will in future
works. Most of my favorite moments of the film were scene transitions and
camera angles, a few so powerful that they will certainly be what I remember
most from Midsommar. While Aster does employ numerous artistic shots, many
of which I enjoyed tremendously, there were times it seemed like he is so
focused on trying to capture imaginative moments that he was sacrificing
important aspects of the narrative and plot development. The film’s soundtrack
is also successful, and while it reminded me of Hereditary, it isn’t
able to quite reach the levels of its predecessor.
The film is quite lengthy, clocking in around 2 hours and 20
minutes, but overall there were only small moments that dragged on. Pugh gives a
strong performance and is the standout of the film. Just as Collette was able
to capture a wide range of emotion in Hereditary that really helped
drive the film forward, we see the same from Pugh here. I did get serious Wicker
vibes while watching Midsommar, and normally that is not a good
thing. Midsommar is not the best horror movie I’ve seen in recent years,
and I do not believe it was even better than Hereditary, but Aster is
able to take the audience on an interesting journey – one that is worth
watching and is a fairly successful sophomoric film.

Rating: 3 out of 5