Midsommar ★★★★★

Why do I rewatch Ari Aster movies? People I know who have seen Hereditary and Midsommar agree that there is top tier filmmaking on display. However, they also agree that they will be perfectly fine never to see them again, thank you very much. I, on the other hand, delve into his stunningly crafted nightmares time after time.

Admittedly, after my first viewing of Midsommar I told my best friend (who was seeing it a few hours later) that what I experienced wasn't a capital H horror movie. When the credits rolled after her screening she told me that what she watched was most assuredly a Horror movie (she also falls into the camp of calling this a "good movie never to be watched again"). This made me question my own initial experience with the movie and motivated me to see it a second time a week later.

The horror elements were more obvious to me on the second viewing and I somehow liked the movie even more, but it also clicked into place a realization about myself and how I consume movies. I love the horror genre, but am rarely if ever actively scared while watching. Sure, I'll be startled by a well placed jump scare, but that feeling of dread, foreboding, outright terror isn't something that gets to me. My day-to-day life is full of things that scare me, big and small, so it is especially easy for me to hold a movie at arm's length. My depression, anxiety, and OCD keep me in an exceptionally heightened state at all times. My mental ninja skills are such that emotions, no matter if it comes from real life or movies, tend to bounce off.

What Ari Aster gives me that even some of my other favorite directors somehow don't, is a way for me to really understand those big emotions that I like to block out, but does it in a language I understand. I've never had a relationship like Dani and Christian's, but showing it fall apart in the context of the Midsommar rituals gives me a "safe" way to understand it.

While not an original or particularly unique personality trait, movies are how I have come to understand pretty much everything I know. I purposefully have a very small circle of friends and spend the vast majority of my time alone. The visceral scares/gore/horror of an Ari Aster movie are well done and technically impressive, but also available in any halfway decent slasher flick that used practical effects in the 80s. The connection I feel so strongly with his films seems to be based on the level of psychological horror that he operates under that I simply don't understand in my real life. The absolute emotional terrorism that seems to impact viewers so strongly with his films is the very thing that fascinates me and keeps me coming back for more.

Now having seen it a third time a week after my second viewing, I'm still longing to understand without having to experience for myself. Thank you for giving me a way to do that, Mr. Aster.

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