Midsommar ★★★★★

No, it's not like Hereditary, but it is unmistakably an Ari Aster film. Midsommar builds its madhouse drama on the foundation of Aster's twisted sensibilities. It's a different aesthetic, different tonal coat of paint, but the place still smells the same, and the plumbing hasn't changed a bit. Cinematically this means tragedy as a launchpad into horror, horror as catharsis, and that catharsis as the delivery system for deeply unsettling imagery.

But you'll laugh too.

I'm not joking when I say Midsommar was one of the funniest films I've seen all year. Maybe chalk it up to my dark sense of humor, or my love of the absurd, but it definitely tickled nonetheless. And not always in-between moments of brutality and dread—sometimes the levity arrived right smack dab in the middle of them—lending a wild emotional juxtaposition to the whole affair (I don't think I've ever laughed this hard during an explicit sex scene). Further, this bittersweetness also extends to the film's use of light, both literally and figuratively.

For one, all atrocities are displayed as clearly and plainly as possible, preventing the audience from escaping any of Midsommar's delivered gruesomeness. And for another, all intentions (twisted or otherwise) are plastered absolutely everywhere; painted on walls, woven into tapestry, fingerpainted onto the pages of sacred ritualistic texts — the evil in the film is hiding in plain sight, making the fact that every victim seems to always be caught off guard, hilariously preposterous.

Still, for as funny as it tends to be, there's certainly no shortage of shock value found within. In fact, I'd wager that in spite of its grin, Midsommar will come across for many as the more immediately disturbing film between it and Aster's first feature outing. Sure I speak highly to its absurdly dark sense of humor, but nearly every laugh was either preceded by or followed with an audible gasp. And truth be told, just like with Hereditary, I'll likely live out the rest of my life scarred to some degree by the unshakable imagery imprinted on my mind with all the subtlety of an extra-large wooden acme hammer to the face.

I can't thank Ari Aster enough for it.

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