Written By: CM
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Director: Ari Aster
Producers: Lars Knudsen, Patrik Andersson
Writer: Ari Aster
Date Released: 3 July 2019
Florence Pugh as Dani Ardor
Jack Reynor as Christian Hughes
William Jackson Harper as Josh
Vilhelm Blomgren as Pelle
Will Poulter as Mark
Ellora Torchia as Connie
Archie Madekwe as Simon
Rating = 3.5/5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
Dani Ardor, a college student mourning the disturbing death of her sister and parents, joins her emotionally distant boyfriend and his friends on a trip to Sweden to attend a midsummer celebration of a commune called Hårga. Dani is introduced to a beautiful field where they danced, sang, and joined festivities until she realizes something is off about this blithe community.
Don’t be fooled by the bright Coachella aesthetics of this film, Ari Aster didn’t come to play with this one. Midsommar somehow manages to keep the Pinterest-worthy aesthetic while showing stomach-churning scenes of gruesome suicides, people swallowed by fire alive, and organs turned inside out. Remember not to eat during this film—it’s quite disgustingly beautiful.
The Grave Review
Midsommar (2019) is only Ari Aster’s second horror film but we seem to already know what path he’s taking. Taking in elements from Hereditary (2018), with its themes of mental health, cults, and dysfunctional families and slow-burn, folk horror style, it’s safe to say he’s treading his path to becoming a contemporary auteur.
Just like Hereditary, Midsommar (2019) banks on the hyperrealism of both the special effects and the story. Not even thirty minutes into the film, viewers already witness a disturbing death of the family of Dani (exceptionally played by Florence Pugh), which was caused by her sister committing suicide and murdering her parents by filling their home with carbon monoxide. Pugh’s performance during an abrupt scene of her breaking down in the arms of her boyfriend is one of the most notable scenes in the film, as it offers a raw glimpse into grief in the real world.
Another similarity to Hereditary is its slow pacing. It wasn’t until half an hour when the film actually starts as they arrive in Sweden. The first thirty minutes were an excruciating attempt at building a complex narrative, but in the end, it all becomes forgotten as it gets lost in the festivities of Hårga. How are we supposed to remember Dani’s rocky relationship when we see 72-year-olds cliff diving into rocks and naked matriarchs watching a young girl have sex with a foreigner?
Ironically enough, Aster forgets to shape his other characters Mark, Pelle, and Josh and simply settles for overused tropes. Perhaps this is a sacrifice he had to take for the first thirty minutes because nobody would be willing to watch a lengthy film about happy dancing white people (although the Step Up franchise was very successful.)
Aside from these, the film was actually entertaining to watch, especially for those who like nausea-inducing gore scenes. Aster gets oddly creative, he somehow conjured up a picture of a dead body with its lungs hanging out from a ceiling resembling wings and its eyes replaced by beautiful yellow wildflowers. It was terrifying and beautiful at the same time. It was Coachella with beautiful creepy white people and a really bad acid trip.
As much as we’d hope to be creeped out by Midsommar, the ending was very satisfying. Despite everything that happened, viewers will find themselves still wanting to join the commune and even being glad Christian gets to be burned in flames in a real bear suit. Following Dani’s narrative, the last five seconds was the only time she was actually in control and happy. And just like the film’s aesthetic, there is something eerily beautiful about this realization.
We can definitely see that Aster is trying to leave his mark in horror history with his distinct new style. Despite some rough patches, we’re all on the edge of our seats waiting for what he has in store. Sometimes the true test of an unconventional horror movie isn’t whether the film is frightening but whether it sticks in the mind.
Because of the above reasons, Grave Reviews gives Midsommar (2019) three graves out of five graves.
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You may also like our review on the film, Hereditary.