This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Arin’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Fantastic. Mesmerizing. Highly recommend.
I've said many things about this movie in conversations, but I find it hard to gather my thoughts in written form. It's a beautiful and horrifying movie. I've always found horror in broad daylight to be particularly disturbing, and this is probably one of the most bright and colorful horror movies ever made. The Swedish setting of Halsingland is lush and beautiful, which makes the bloody rituals even more chilling. The Harga are welcoming and familial, and you find yourself drawn into them just like the hapless victims that make up the main cast.
It's a folk horror cult movie, but it's also a movie about trauma and toxic relationships. Dani is an excellent protagonist, and you come to empathize with her a lot during the movie's rather long runtime. You can see how her trauma seeps into her already-failing relationship with Christian, and how it sets her up to accept the Harga as her new family. She has never been wholly loved and held by anyone, and the Harga accepted her with open arms and celebrate her-- how could she not embrace them? Christian as the awful boyfriend is smartly written. He's cowardly and manipulative with his toxicity. His friends egg him on and convince him that Dani is the abusive one for daring to have emotional needs. The couple's failing relationship, and Dani's grief, make up the true core of the movie.
The entire cast is great, but Florence Pugh especially shines in her performance as Dani. Her emotions feel so real, and she carries the movie. Which she has to, considering she's the central character.
Even though Midsommar's runtime is so long, it doesn't feel dragging. Both times I saw it in the theater, when the ending scenes arrived, I thought "wow, already?" And the latter time was the extended director's cut! (Which is an even better version of the movie, and if it becomes available to watch again, I highly recommend it) Just like how the long sunshine-y days of Halsingland meld into each other, time also works differently in the theater as you watch Midsommar.
My biggest criticism of the film: Ruben doesn't need to exist. He adds nothing to the story and serves only as a "scary deformity" character. The "deliberate incest creates a prophet" plot detail comes off as nothing more than another example of film auteurs' bizarre fixation on the incest taboo. That's what comes to mind first with regards to the film's drawbacks.
Overall, one of my favorite movies. I can't wait to see what Ari Aster makes next.