Midsommar ★★★★½

Is it scary? 

Ari Aster claimed Midsommar is “Wizard of Oz for perverts” and he was totally correct. After debuting his modern day horror masterpiece Hereditary, all eyes were on Aster for his sophomore outing. The premise of a couple going through a traumatic event while their relationship is already on the fence thus going on a retreat to Sweden where their retreat is ruined at the hand of a pagan cult is a brilliant idea. I’m glad to say Aster has pulled it off yet again. 

Hereditary is the gold standard for horror nowadays. Unsettling subject material, fleshed out themes, excellent editing, impressive cinematography, terrifying visuals/sequences, amazing performances, and spectacular writing and directing. Midsommar maintains all of that while managing to be even more ambitious. 

Unlike Hereditary, I do have one flaw with Midsommar. At times I feel Ari Aster pays homage to his influences a tad bit too much where it’s distracting. It doesn’t ruin the film by any means but parallels to both versions of The Wicker Man are there. Also I didn’t realize this until a couple of people pointed out that a movie that was made in 2003 called Midsommer eerily follows a lot of the same plot points. It’s a weird find that I don’t know how to feel about. None the less, it doesn’t ruin Midsommar for me. 

It’s still a great film and one of the best horror films of this decade for many reasons. What stood out immediately was the stunning cinematography. Ari Aster and returning cinematographer from Hereditary, Pawel Porgorzelski have a keen eye when it comes to capturing alluring and haunting images. Shot in and shot out, Midsommar is a tour de force for its exceptional cinematography. 

Also returning from Hereditary is editor Lucian Johnston. It’s almost like Johnston is showing off at this point. The editing here is bonkers (in a good way). If Johnston gets snubbed again at the Oscars it’ll be highway robbery. There is simply some edits that will be etched into my memory forever. 

Hereditary was a family drama and Midsommar is a relationship drama disguised as a horror film. Ari Aster truly captures a fractured relationship hanging on by a thread all while a very traumatic event is looming over their head. The dynamic of the relationship is scary authentic through the brilliant writing and the astonishing performances. Grief and family themes here are also fleshed out with impressive finality regarding both. 

All are executed flawlessly by the groundbreaking performances. Florence Pugh is a force to be reckoned with at this point. Her performance here might just end up being the performance of the year when it’s all said and done. Oscar win please! Jack Reynor is also really good. He wonderfully portrays a lost boyfriend that is put through the ringer as the film goes on. Another awesome performance comes from Vilhelm Blomgren as Pelle. He has a very inviting soft manor to his performance that’s hard to not be comforted by him. All actors I just listed all have super authentic chemistry. It’s like watching a real group of friends with real interactions both just as friends and as couples. 

I had very high expectations for Aster in his second film and I was not disappointed. This film is truly fucked up. Midsommar capitalizes on horror this time around with it being more shocking rather than actual scares all while taking place mostly during the daytime. Like the pagan cult, the set pieces on display are super inviting but as you look closely, they’re very disturbing. If you want your kids to understand family values, look no further than Sweden based Midsommar. 

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