This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Dylan’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
**Director's Cut Review**
I feel like I need to open with the elephant in the room at least for me which is I feel it was a very odd and exploitative choice to smack the label bipolar on the sister and have her commit a murder suicide that literally ruined the protagonist's life. Like okay artistic license and what not, but was it really necessary to demonize a specific mental illness? Like the representation wasn't there, the only reason to name drop BPD was for the sake of idk specificity itself I guess. idk back to the review.
Ari Aster understands what real people are actually afraid of. Nefarious shadowy figures with exposed penises, the fear of loss and isolation, FEARS WITHIN RELATIONSHIP DYNAMICS (which is why Hereditary is simultaneously one of the greatest horror movies of all time and a family drama), and the fear of death– not just in a slasher kind of way either. The single most horrific thing about this community is that everyone knows exactly how long they have to live and the grotesque way they are going to die when that day comes. Also, that skin suit bullshit had me fucked all the way up... thanks I hate it.
The score was absolutely fucking brilliant. I enjoyed the cinematography very much and all in all I love seeing weird and creative movies getting made especially in the horror genre. But, this movie wasn't on Hereditary's level. It seemed to lack a unifying focus that was present in Hereditary. (HEREDITARY SPOILER BETWEEN ASTERISKS) *Like the ritual in Hereditary was at the service of achieving a greater goal* and the ritual in Midsommer is nebulous and seemingly at the service of nothing but aesthetic value– which was impeccable might I add, but still. Some of Midsommar's lore felt meandering and aimless where its predecessor's was always streamline, shocking, and purposeful. The relationships in Hereditary also ran deeper and were much more immersive and gut wrenchingly tragic. Also, all in all, Hereditary is just a more unsettling movie.
We need to get one thing straight Dani (Florence Pugh) isn't crazy she's probably the most sensible person amongst the group. She's just hurting– a thing that she's been gaslit into believing she's not allowed to do. Her sister is missing and knowing her boyfriend's indifference to her, yet being desperate for the support system she is lacking, she calls him. In a devastating scene, Dani tries asking him if they are still hanging out desperate not to let the tears welling in her eyes show through her voice. His response amounts to a dismissal of her anxieties and a vaguely irritable shrug of acquiesce. This is important in that it not only establishes the relationship dynamic, but it also parallels the later scene of Dani begging to leave the cult and Christian dismissing her substantiated concerns and refusing to go with her for self centered reasons.
Dani's boyfriend Christian (Jack Reynor) isn't exactly evil, but he's selfish and resentful in the way you would expect from an underachieving grad student that hasn't given much thought to his thesis. But, in the grand tradition of emotionally unavailable resentful men, Christian projects much of his self loathing outward. His friends let him play the coy damsel in distress while they rip his girlfriend to shreds, essentially deeming her an emotionally abusive leech for calling a second time. Mark (Will Poulter) suggests he could hypothetically get their waitress pregnant (foreshadowing!!) if he left Dani. Then he answers the phone, she's scream-crying, her family is dead.
At its core this is a break up movie. Essentially he hates that he can't break up with her without knowing deep down that he's the one that failed. She's vulnerable and needs someone to lean on. Thus she becomes the may queen of a cult covered in flowers and he gets burned alive inside of a bear carcass. the end.
Getting into my theories about bullshit, as well. Christian and that red headed girl are related and that's why he was "chosen" beforehand and the reason they aren't suitable for marriage is because they are creating the new inbred oracle and that is why after literally the funniest and most awkward sex scene of all time it cuts of a shot of the oracle.
To conclude this long ass review that I've kept adding shit to for two days now. Midsommar is one of a kind, visually creative, and often stunning in its horror. However, Aster can and has done much better. I look forward to seeing what he puts out next, because I love that his horror is rooted in relationships and embellished with compelling folklore.