This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Ethan M’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
This film was very disappointing to me. Coming off of Ari Aster's Hereditary, I had high expectations for this, which I guess could be my own fault for comparing the film to its predecessor.
But can you really blame me? Both are incredibly similar. Both involve family death and the occult on a personal level, are shot similarly, have tragic endings, etc. I really feel like this film is just Hereditary's plot with a Pagan twist. The beginning section where the sister kills off the main character's parents by gasing the house seemed kinda insensitive, in my opinion, because they just write her off as bipolar. They are also never brought up again, and only serve as a reason for the main character to go to Sweden. I thought that there was gonna be some kind of setup with them, but the film really only revolves around the main character and her boyfriend. Florence Pugh who plays said main character, Dani, is brilliantly acted. She carries the film for me, along with some of the cinematography. The rest of the plot, though, just kinda drags for me. Even the original cut felt 30 minutes too long, so I kinda laughed when they released a director's cut that's even longer.
Honestly, if this went more in-depth with character relationships and loss, I think this film would be a lot tighter. I love how viscerally Aster portrays familial death and grief, so when I saw the first 20 or so minutes of the film, I was gripped, only for it to be slowly drained out of me throughout the course of the movie. Most of the pagan cult scenes felt either silly or just there for shock value, and I never really understood the point of the oracle guy. That's the thing. This is a horror movie that never felt scary. It had interesting ideas, but I would never say I felt scared during it.
In conclusion, this film is very disappointing for me, especially coming off of Hereditary, which was like a 10/10. I hope Aster can make something better than this in the future and doesn't become known as that "one guy who made a really good movie and then got worse."