Midsommar ★★★★

Seems like Ari Aster went through a really bad breakup, huh, guys?

Midsommar is Ari Aster's follow-up to one of the best horror movies in recent years - 2018's(!), Hereditary - and he strikes when the iron is hot. But the outcome doesn't feel, as one might fear, rushed or sloppy. Midsommar is a folky, twisted, trippy, druggy, psychedelic mindfuck of a stomach-turning psychological horror. Or as Ari Aster describes it himself, a "psychedelic nightmare fairy tale". It's disturbing, slow burning and takes its time with the world building and characters. That's right: World building in a horror flick, and it's very essential here, because in a way we take over the protagonists antropological traits in determining what the fuck is going on in the commune. We also really get to know our main characters and therefore care for them, even though some of them are dicks and some of them are egotistical, but they feel real, with all their insecurities and shortcomings. Will Poulter's character acts as an overcompensation, insecure idiot, but he's believable, even if he has one off-screen (ad-lib/ADR?) too many.

After having seen Spider-Man: Far From Home it's a delight to see a movie movie; where there's care in every shot and composition. Where cinematographer, Pawel Pogorzelski (he shot Hereditary as well) brilliantly and elegantly knows where our focus should be. Where a director knows how to make transitions. Where a director doesn't say, "Point the camera in that direction and let's get some jump scares to pick up the pace". Where the characters are well-rounded, and not just there to make a joke. Speaking of which, this movie made me laugh *way* more than Far From Home. It's darkly comedic in places. And that's one of Ari Aster's many strengths; that he can make you shudder with disgust and laugh manically within the same scene. Because what's happening is so frightening and odd and surreal. A special mention of how well the horror works is in parts due to the editing by Lucian Johnston, and the sound editing that create an unnerving atmosphere in unison. And special, special mention to The Haxan Cloak (AKA Bobby Krlic) who composed the score, a dark, disturbing, ominous beast.

It's interesting what Aster gets out of his actors, especially Jack Reynor and Florence Pugh here. Their relationship is the movie's cold, dead heart. It's believable and heartbreaking. But again: Real. And Pugh's acting (like Toni Collette in Hereditary) should give her all the awards; she's portraying a depressed young woman with panic attacks, and she's absolutely astonishing and three-dimensional. As are all the characters' actions. I believe how the characters interact and behave, and Aster is a master of portraying characters that are traumatized.

There are just so many intense, dreadful, heartpounding moments in this movie. Unsettling moments that will disturb you, more than make you jump out of your seat. But I think we take it for granted how well he describes depression, how crushingly, devastatingly real he manages to convey such complex emotions. The opening is scary, because it felt true, and that made it even more frightening. I can't remember if I've ever seen it portrayed so beautifully authentic, really. And it was scary how accurately they handled tripping. It felt like, well, how it is. Of course, this will be the cinema walk-out experience of the year. People will say "nothing happens, dude!" and we must let them, and the experience in the theatre will be all the better for it. Midsommar is slow, yes. It's long, yes. But it's rewarding as hell. Most audiences will hate it. Yes, it has cult classic written all over it.

If Hereditary was Ari Aster's metaphor for family tragedy, then Midsommar is his take on a breakup. And it's a damn fine and delightfully fucked up metaphor. It's about family grief, finding a family and relationships and toxic relationships. And this movie verified two theories I had. 1) That drugs suck. 2) That the Swedes are friggin' shifty. It'll be interesting to see that if Midsommar will boost or deflate Sweden's tourism the following years.

Directed by Ari Aster

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