Lucas Williams’s review published on Letterboxd:
Like a very twisted and nuanced version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Midsommar is a deep study on cultures and relationships that absolutely requires multiple viewings to fully sink in. And upon my second viewing of Midsommar, I’m confident in saying that Aster has crafted another goosebump-inducing, horror masterpiece.
Similar to Hereditary, there is so much lurking under the surface here that you just can’t pick up the first time. The first viewing is simply trying take all of the abrasiveness and absurdity in, just trying to stay afloat during the wildly comedic horror narrative that Aster is presenting. It’s enough for you to understand the outline of what Aster is doing, but not enough to know why. This is where a second viewing is absolutely essential! It all flows so much better and the motives, character developments, and nuances of horror are seen so much more clearly. Aster is not lazy or simplistic in his filmmaking. He doesn’t have characters killed off or make poor decisions (in both Midsommar and Hereditary) just to create drama or gore; it all fits in the overflowing narrative of what he’s trying to do and say. And in this case, Midsommar is about trauma and the collective/personal experiences contrasted within the Eastern and Western cultures. Dani never feels supported by Christian or any of his friends and has no remaining family, but in Harga, she is embraced as queen and is a part of a collective whole that grieves together, loves together, and experiences together. And as creepy and horrifying as the means are to get there for her, she is now happy and smiling as she sees her pain, fear, and grief burn into ashes.
Once again, this is also a study on Eastern/Western cultures. All of the friends brought along (similar to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) represent certain generalities of Western thought and are slowly picked off as result of their faults.
• Christian is selfish and is only looking after himself; whether it be his negligence of him and Dani’s relationship, butting into Josh’s thesis, and (towards the end) his overly exaggerated denial of even “associating with Josh”.
• Mark is the typical “class-clown” type that never takes anything seriously and is there only for the wrong reasons. And as Pelle says, he’s represents the American who just “jams himself in there”. His gross negligence is seen by him peeing on the “sacred elder tree”, napping through ceremonies, and is there, ultimately, for his own self gratification (drugs, smoking, women).
• And Josh is the self-driven American who is so focused on his own success, that it affects his working relationship with Christian and, eventually, his life.
This all adds up to a general picking off of each character Willy Wonka style until the only one worthy is: Dani.
There can be so much more said about what Aster is doing/saying in Midsommar (it’s really a shame that I can’t express it all here), but what should be ultimately understood is that Aster is intentional in everything he did in the 147 min run time of this film. Once again, Aster is not lazy or meandering in any of his two films. He’s painstakingly meticulous and brilliant in how he crafts them; you just have to take time to let it all digest, then be willing sit down for another hearty meal of Aster to really get what his films are trying to do or say. Which, in the end, isn’t satisfying to a lot of viewers. But to me, Aster has now crafted two films that cut through the mediocrity of horror so finely, that it’s impossible not to recognize them as the decade’s best horror films.
*Also, somehow Aster has coaxed out another Oscar worthy performance by his lead role. Florence Pugh is AMAZZZING, but will more than likely get shafted by the Academy because it’s a “horror film”. Crying shame.
#4 Film of the Decade