iksvecjart’s review published on Letterboxd:
The main takeaway here is that Ari Aster is just an edgelord Wes Anderson. From his own work, this is aesthetically most similar to his awful quasi-Pixar parody Munchausen, and in some ways I begrudgingly respect his eye for visuals - the cinematography and production design do virtually all the heavy lifting. The film surrounding it however has nothing to say and says it sloooooowly - as if he thinks his symmetrical shots look more impressive the more time you spend looking at them (I'm increasingly convinced that Aster should just become a photographer). The result is a laughably bloated film (with an upcoming director's cut of three hours) - much like Hereditary, the intent is to build an atmosphere based on cumulative effect, but his tendency to mash his unscary brand of horror with his unfunny brand of comedy make them cancel each other out, meaning that tension is barely built if ever. He takes what seems like a lifetime to reach his set pieces where the damage should ultimately be done, and it certainly doesn't feel earned.
The set pieces themselves are grotesque, and while I admire his willingness to confront uncomfortable imagery, I'm also at a loss as for why he's doing it, why we were watching it, and why it wasn't having any effect on me. His images are indeed fucked up, but given his lack of interesting ideas, they are detached from any meaning, and consequently lose any power they might have had. He's more willing to sit back and take the piss rather than engage with his characters' feelings, and this damages his work.
This is probably my favourite of Aster's work so far almost purely because of its visuals and Florence Pugh who elevates empty material. His ideas however remain vacuous at best and idiotic at worst: the treatment of mental illness in his films for instance remains suspect to say the least.