khoi97’s review published on Letterboxd:
9.8 - A beautiful pagan folklore nightmare, Midsommar commands the audience attention for its entire runtime with unsettling imageries and outstanding performances, proving once again that Ari Aster has an exciting career ahead of him.
Enjoyment: 5/5 | Quality: 4.8/5
If Hereditary is an exploration of grief and loss, then Midsommar, a film that can be described as a kaleidoscope of pure pastel nightmare and terror, explores the complexity of emotional neglect and co-dependency that follows after grief and loss.
Unlike Hereditary, in which Aster intricately never revealed too much until the ultimate gut punch, Midsommar puts terror into the dead center and never steers away from it. From the opening sequence, Aster establishes a discomforting tone by revealing the trauma that our protagonist Dani, played by Florence Pugh, has to endure and how it haunts and affects her for the rest of the film. It also subtly reveals the dynamic between her and her boyfriend Christian, played by Jack Reynor, and the strain within their relationship.
As shown in the trailer, as the gang enters Sweden, the colorful eye-stimulating psychedelic nightmare begins. With unnatural and flashy camerawork, something that was evident but restraint in Hereditary, Ari Aster and Pawel Pogorzelski pull out all the stops in this trip, in order to convey a sense of dread and uneasy feeling. To describe this film as a beautiful pastel nightmare of a psychedelic trip is accurate.
The cleverness of the film lies within its structures and pacing, in which it feels almost exactly like a long psychedelic trip. The long runtime of 147 minutes feels short, despite each knife twists burn a more disturbing image than the last one, which ultimately ends in a harrowing and haunting final frame. Every subtle detail of pulsing flowers, warping trees, and disoriented landscapes only emphasizes the madness of the film.
Draped in flowers and sunshine, Florence Pugh is the front and center of the festivities; she screams and cries her way through the terror yet somehow brings nuance to the performance that was missing in Toni Collete's performance in Hereditary.
While hypnotic and tense, the film uses comedy brilliantly to release the tension whenever needed, thanks to Will Poulter's character, Mark. Never seems forced, the humor is natural and logical, but most importantly humane.
While hard to digest, the film is bold, daring, and ambitious. For all its insanity, it is a trip that is worth taking to reflect upon how personal trauma that causes by loss may lead to emotional dependency.