Midsommar ★★★★

Damn, this new season of Survivor got kinda weird huh?

It's impossible not to compare this film to Aster's Hereditary. With that said, the film that I most want to compare Midsommar to would be Jordan Peele's sophomoric effort of Us. When Get Out received immense amounts of hype and subsequent critical acclaim, myself and many others were intently eyeing his next film, a horror film within the same, "social horror" category that we loved to see from his first. And, while Us was respected and enjoyed by many, the story and the themes presented towards the end became muddled and unfocused - like Peele was trying to do too many things at once.

Midsommar, with a runtime of 2 hours and 27 minutes, more to do with cults, and with Aster being given heightened creative control after the success of his first film, I was geared for the masterful directing I saw in Hereditary to appear once again, but this time with Ari Aster to potentially take it to another level.

Once again, the directing was magnificent. The film was beautiful, each scene so bright and so masterfully shot. Towards the beginning of the film there are two match cuts that really grabbed my attention. Florence Pugh runs to the bathroom to cry, and as the camera, mounted on the ceiling, is tracking her, and she enters the bathroom, there is a quick cut to her crying in the airplane bathroom - a quick jump of two weeks. As she takes her seat, the camera focuses on what appears to be the Scandes, and after a bit of turbulence, the protagonists are in a car on the way to the Midsommar festival. Just like that, in less than a minute we go from the U.S. to airplane to Sweden, as smooth as butter.

Ari Aster is a better director than he is a writer, however. I was surprised to learn that the Swedish practice of ättestupa (don't look it up if you don't want spoilers) is a real Nordic ritual. Many of the ritualistic behaviors in this cult had led me to believe that Ari Aster was making this up as he went along, but it seems like he did his research and some of these things are based on real cultish behavior. The movie only really started to falter in the third act. What started as a film constantly edging on full-blown catharsis, stretching the limits on what these characters face, turned into something a bit too ridiculous to be taken seriously. As the film was said to "walk as close to edge of NC17 as cinematically possible," some of the most outrageous and boundary-stretching rituals of this cult became rather silly. My focus for the first two hours was a rope being stretched to the brink, and the ending ignored that tension for a weak thematic conclusion.

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