Cole Matthew Curtiss’s review published on Letterboxd:
Yikes, there is so much to say. Let me begin by saying that I loved it, and it was 100% exactly what I thought (and wanted) it to be. It's very difficult not to compare this to Hereditary... and I loved this so much more than Hereditary.
Midsommar just works on every level, largely thanks to the incredible direction and writing. Ari Aster has officially cemented a personal style, and every part of it is working on this one. I absolutely love how he does horror- with such intent, confidence, and restraint. I could go on and on about all the things I love about his filmmaking. I am no fan of outright horror movies, so this is just a breath of fresh air. Aster breaks the mold in so many ways and only benefits from his departures from the norm.
"Ari Aster does't freak you out by making you scared of something, but rather by making you aware of everything.”
This was how Jacob (who I saw it with, establishing a Ari Aster film date tradition) broke it down after the fact, and it's so right. Ari Aster immerses, and that's what makes his worlds so uncomfortable. He tells little and shows absolutely everything, forces you to watch, dares you to believe. Just like the characters of Midsommar, as an audience member we find ourselves feeling as if an intruder, like we know we're not supposed to be seeing what we are, because there's no way this is meant for us. But Midsommar doesn't relent, explain itself, or calm you down- it just keeps on persuading. And it works.
Florence Pugh shines. I was disappointed to see a move away in narrative distance as the world began to unfurl more and more in the end, becuase I feel that will hurt her chances of being recognized for her truly brilliant work. If it had stayed so close to her brain the whole time, I think she'd be in a lot better of a position come awards season. Supporting cast all held their own, and were assisted by really impressive character work in the writing.
Another thing about Ari Aster's two films (but especially Midsommar) that sets him apart- they're technically perfect. Not good- perfect. Midsommar has some staggeringly beautiful cinematography (the use of the slow mega-zoom was particularly effective), flawless lighting, brilliant and spotless editing, an inventive and nauseating score, and really incredible sound design (just one of many reasons to see this in theaters that stands out).
It's not a 10/10 for me, but I honestly can't figure out what to knock for this one. There's so much more I have to say as well but can't even gather it all. At the time of writing, best of 2019.
Watched with Jacob at Celebration Cinema Crossroads.