Ash ♥️’s review published on Letterboxd:
I finally watched that movie y'all have been masturbating over... and I didn't hate it as much as I expected.
Things I liked:
- although I wish the exposure wasn't so obnoxiously turned up at times (felt like I was watching a film coloured by someone using insta filters for the first time), this is absolutely stunningly shot. Those wintry opening nature shots had me hooked pretty early on.
- the production design is flawless and I hope it gets an Oscar nom
- Apart from Will Poulter who feels pretty over the top, everyone brings a pretty great performance to the table. I'd say Jack Reynor is more impressive than Florence Pugh in places (and she's fantastic), simply because he's given more to work with.
- Christian forgetting Dani's birthday re-opened the old wound of when my ex forgot my birthday (twice!) so well done for hitting me where it hurts.
- I didn't feel the run time at all, which is surprising given I was bored half the time.
Which brings me to what I didn't like:
- Let the record show that I can't stand Ari Aster. He is as subtle as a hand grenade, indulges in mastubatory flairs that add nothing to his films and his lack of faith in audiences to pick up foreshadowing and symbolism make me want to deck his already very punchable face (I actually groaned each time I saw a bear). He is also a torture porn enthusiast, but to his credit it doesn't show as much as I was expecting it to. The first 15 minutes are undeniably awful but I was into the rest of the violence/body horror.
- I wish there was more actual plot padding this run time. The plot could be summed up with twitters 280 character limit.
- Not a single character is given any dimension in the theatrical cut, so do I care about them? Nope. Aster cares more about building atmosphere than he does giving his audience a reason to be invested in the heartbreaks and betrayals the characters go through, which would be fine if he wasn't pedalling how much of this film as an experience hinges on how characters feel and their experiences.
- explain this film to me all you want, but outside of an exercise in style I can't really see a reason for it to exist.
- I can't help but feel like the 'horror director overcoming the sophomore slump' narrative was shoved down my throat in 2019. I wanted to buy into the hype for Midsommar, hoping that I would enjoy it considerably more than Hereditary simply based off all the good things I was hearing. But where Jordan Peele stumbled with Us by being overly ambitious with his metaphor use, Aster wobbles by doubling down on what he thinks people liked about Hereditary and running for the hills. He shows great promise and hell, even a bit of growth, as a visual director, but all the same structural beats I had problems with in Hereditary are still here. I can see myself becoming less willing to let them slide in his future work if he doesn't shape up.
I know I will be watching this again very soon so I'm interested to see how time will affect my viewing, but for the love of god, please shut up about it until then. How I managed to enjoy something I had had so incredibly spoiled for me, right down to the last shot, is a miracle and it's a really shitty and inconsiderate of the Twitter community to only care about their own viewing experiences in the way they've approached Midsommar. I hope all the likes and RTs you got from being the first person to spoil it on the TL were worth it.