Midsommar ★★★★½

Ari Aster in, like, eleven months has become a significant filmmaker on my to-watch list. As with HEREDITARY in 2018, Aster hits very unique horror beats, lovingly follows his deeply forlorn characters, and slowly unravels creepy core ideas to the script. And along the way, he creates beauty visuals, washes over the film with a haunting score, and masterfully cuts the film together with a dreamlike editing style.

Although slightly long for my liking, MIDSOMMAR is the best film I’ve seen this year. I would also suggest that even though I’m not necessarily cool with all the directions taken by Aster here, there is no better feeling in cinema than being totally led along by a storyteller who has both style and something to say.

MIDSOMMAR can’t possibly be doing much for Northern Sweden’s tourism industry as it takes a few unsuspecting Americans to the rural Summer Solstice flower festival of a commune before unleashing all kinds of horrors upon them. Things seem lovely, chilled, and relaxing (including a trippy, trippy scene) for a little while until the inevitable culture clash.

I’ll not get into the rituals and festival itinerary, but Aster understands very clearly the whole purpose of ceremony to any society. He dwells on mundane elements of ceremonies, yet makes them stand out in beauty and/or weirdness and meaning. Almost every scene has some sort of fascinating hook even when it feels as if the scene has run too long. As much as you want Aster to hurry up his pacing, you are totally hooked by what Aster’s direction or the script itself uncovers in its slow reveals.

I can’t recall a film that so effectively balances creepy and funny. And the film is so intricately layered with what the characters are dealing with internally on top of they witness at the festival.  I feel I shouldn’t even reveal the pre-credit sequence which is just stunning filmmaking. The film stuck with me for a longtime following my viewing as I pondered the opening’s apparent lack of connection to northern Sweden. However, Aster is saying a lot about the role of ritual in society and how it fits into the stresses of young adults.

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