Midsommar ★½

Ari Aster's brand of shock horror eludes me, many have cited Aster to the effect of a baseless provocateur or a master of empty pastiches—his films mean nothing, while the best aspects are generally borrowed assets—and in the case of Midsommar, both of those labels apply.

Midsommar, according to Aster, is meant to simulate the experience of a toxic relationship, specifically his own—Aster drew parallels from a past relationship, modeling Florence Pugh's character after himself, Jack Reynor's role after his ex-girlfriend, and so on. That's fine and dandy, but it is clear that Midsommar has no interest in exploring its supposed subject matter—hardly any of its drawn-out length is in service of diagnosing self-doubt, guilt, or any symptoms of toxic relationship—or at least, nothing to ever substantiate a single point worth making.

As far as I'm concerned, Midsommar is, at most, a vessel for Aster to go on about his usual antics—disturbing imagery, shocking gore, and overly self-indulgent sequences that never truly add to the film or build up to anything. There are some creative designs and concepts tossed in, but they all reek of imitation—Aster, a noted Von Trier fan, verifiably borrows the premise of Dogville (the foreigner stranded in an unnerving town) but strips it of nuance with the most surface-level approach.

It's just really, really, toothless—but what's even worse than that is that it's boring. Midsommar is a slog of a film that hardly earns its length nor pacing. For what it's worth, I enjoyed Hereditary the first time around, largely in part due to Toni Colette—though, here, there is nothing to even offer the illusion of a good film. Sophomoric slump? Yeah, I'd say so—my dude needs to shake it up for his next feature.

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