Midsommar ★★★★★

I've waited with eager anticipation to watch Midsommar since the trailer first dropped, but hadn't gotten the chance up until now. I'd built it up in my mind so much that I was unsure that it could live up to the sheer greatness that I expected of it. But luckily it did, in spades. It would be difficult for any film to displace this as my favourite film of the year as it contains so many of the things that I love in horror. To me, it is a masterpiece.

Director Ari Aster's previous film, Hereditary, wasn't one that I took an instantly strong liking to. In fact, on first viewing I found it to be mildly uneventful and its ending admittedly hindered my enjoyment a decent amount. But since then with subsequent viewings I can say that I enjoy it quite a lot, learning to love the film for what it is instead of what I wish it could have been, letting go of focusing heavily on my small gripes. However, my first impression of Hereditary did leave me somewhat apprehensive for Midsommar after I learned of its existence earlier this year. That is until I saw the trailer, even though I don't typically watch trailers, and I knew then this was something special.

It's immersive, brilliantly slow, methodical and extremely chilling. One of the films greatest strengths being its use of vibrant colour and daylight. The commune, 'Hårga', is always bathed in bright light, this beautifully inviting and serene place that is a mere few steps away from paradise itself, yet still somehow immediately unsettling. Paired with some fantastic cinematography, sets and costumes, it is one of the most visually impressive and stunning films I've seen to date. It had me fixated.

The performances, especially the performances by Florence Pugh and Jack Reynor, were honestly phenomenal. The relationships between these characters felt real and very complicated, and the tensions among the main group never felt forced or disingenuous. I had an emotional investment in each and every one of them, even despite any of their more obvious shortcomings. The way the main cast acted was overwhelmingly human in nature, which really complimented the stark difference in how the members of the commune behaved.

I suppose it would be fair to liken Midsommar to The Wicker Man in many ways. It shares many of the same elements that made it so impactful and distributing to me; idyllic and tranquil community with mysterious and foreign religious practices, set mostly in daytime, that builds towards the final 'celebration' ritual, its mysteries unfolding, revealing the sick and twisted truth beneath that thin veneer, yet somehow retaining its allure, with character(s) placed in foreign situations thoroughly outside their comfort zones. The Wicker Man is in my top 3 films of all time, and Midsommar truly isn't that far behind I don't think.

Despite its fairly sizeable 147 minute runtime, I didn't once feel bored. If ever the story started to slow down then it was the stunning visuals that kept me glued to the screen, its pacing was superb in that regard. It ends on that perfect note between satisfying yet leaving you wanting more. This is folk horror done to perfection and almost certainly a film I'll watch many, many times in the future. Should Ari Aster continue to direct films like this, I can see him sitting firmly amongst the horror greats.

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