Midsommar

Midsommar ★★★★★

This was my third journey through Midsommar and I like it more each time. It is insidiously slow paced, so it takes its time to really get inside the audience but it’s never any less than compelling. There aren't many films in recent years that I've watched in the cinema which caused a walkout. Midsommar did. A young lady in the cinema on her own left her row promptly uttering the word 'no' repeatedly during perhaps the first really visceral scene. If I tell you it was to do with the age 72, those of you who have seen the film can probably guess which scene about midway through the movie caused the consternation.

Midsommar has a keen sense of humour too, this is a significant part of its appeal. Mark's ‘trip’ not long after they arrive in Sweden is top comedy. Largely because Will Poulter delivers his lines so superbly well. “I’m just gonna lay down, okay? Everybody else lie down”. Also a sense of irony runs throughout Midsommar. However, its not a film with which to get into the nitty gritty in a review as any discussion is bound to be spoilerific. It's enough to say that humour is used not only to offset the horror, but also to amplify it, brilliantly so.

Florence Pugh is a revelation here, even to those of us who were lucky enough to see Lady MacBeth at the time of release and followed her career in the intervening years. Midsommar is her best work so far, and I ‘think’ I’ve seen all of her films. Her character, Dani, is extremely well written but without Pugh I can't imagine this film being as brilliant as it is. She conveys relatable characteristics really convincingly, for a person who finds herself in such an outlandish situation. She brings this folk horror movie down to earth, if that's not to much of a laboured pun. The drama she experiences feels real, and that's the key.

Midsommar is an epic horror movie that for some belies the usual categorisations. Is it a break up film? Is it an occult movie? Is it a comedy? Well it's all of them and more. Although there are jolts of shocking moments scattered through the film, the tone is seamless. The moments that make us laugh do so sometimes in a way that also scares us or makes us feel uncomfortable in some way, particularly as the movie progresses. I used the word ‘journey’ at the top of this review and that’s very much what Midsommar feels like, but it’s one hell of a trip.

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