Midsommar ★★★★½

To go and see something that actually lives up to the hype and muted anticipation I had for it is something I’ve not felt since Get Out. But while Get Out was almost universally acclaimed, even by mass audiences, it has become clear very swiftly that Midsommar will not receive the same praise as its uniquely American counterpart. It might seem trite to address the reaction to the movie first rather than the movie itself, but the climate surrounding Ari Aster’s vision immediately popped off, and its almost engulfed the entire production from opening day.

The complaints are clear and understandable. Aster’s treatise on relationships dying, families dying, your mental stability dying, everything dying just doesn’t work. The script is aimless and lacks focus. The runtime is almost insulting, especially given the former gripes about cohesion. If the director can’t zero in, how can we? The main characters are shallow, means to an end, taken for a ride by a pagan cult with no growth throughout. Oh yea, and Aster is edgy as FUCK, if you didn’t realize that already from Hereditary and There’s Something About Johnsons. He pretty much puts intentionally triggering shit in every one of his films, and Midsommar is no different, especially the gore effects, which are downright obscene (lmao you could bring a kid to this).

If you care much more about plot than I do, take issue with the trivialization of Dani’s grief, or were just plain bored, I get it! That’s totally fair, and you are probably right on a lot of grounds.

However,

This is absolutely one of the most arresting movies I have ever seen. Except for a few moments where Aster gets a bit cheeky with the allusions to bad shit happening (Dani’s family dying), it is a thrill ride with no fucking stops. A good horror movie for me makes you feel shit can pop off any second, and Midsommar gives you that constantly. This is rendered in spades when Dani takes the mushrooms. Aster must have recalled his own bad trip cause goddamn that shit took me BACK to some bad hallucinogenic experiences, and I have rarely, if ever, seen drugs portrayed in such a vivid way in movies that made my skin crawl. There’s never a scene where it seems like the high has broken. It preys on your psyche, using the previous uncomfort as a catapult for more and more seething mayhem. The omnipresent fractals just add to the dysphoria. You just want it to stop. It won’t stop. It won’t stop. It won’t stop.

Hereditary gives you downtime. It allows you to ease into the characters, the supernatural entities afoot. Not Midsommar. Ambiguity is played at all turns, from the rituals to the inbred child to the fates of the supporting cast. It’s a souped-up fairy tale where the faces don’t really matter. Remember how I said one of the complaints is the characters are a means to an end? That was the cult’s intention. Dani doesn’t truly matter, neither does Christian, or any of them. The cult is the main character. It’s the idea of the community as the whole, coming together to utilize outsiders for their progression and ultimate survival. The expert shots of the elders killing themselves exemplify this. The cult is unmoved because they see the greater purpose of this ritual. They are pawns in a greater game, pulled unto the force of the group.

It truly depends on your general psychoses and neuroses being pressed whether or not you enjoy Midsommar. It totally can come off as overwrought, sensationalistic, grating, and pretentious. But Ari Aster gives you no control as a viewer. You are stuck in his festival, colliding nonstop into pregnant tapestries, woven by an unforgiving situation, one that’s unconcerned with the trappings of guilt and shame and pity. The inevitable won’t be denied. We are both Dani, grateful and euphoric in being released from her burdens, and Christian, trapped and passively resigned to immolation. And so it goes on.

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