This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Gillian’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
This movie was a love letter to folk horror, which happens to be one of my top favorite genres. In preparation for this movie, I made my household watch The Wicker Man (1973) the night before and it was a perfect way to really see the connection to traditional folk horror. If I were to recommend this movie to someone, I'd tell them to watch The Wicker Man, Blood on Satan's Claws and Haxan. (which, funnily enough, the score of Midsommar was performed/produced by The Haxan Cloak.
Having horror take place in infinite daylight is a great decision, because all of the tried and tired tropes and techniques of easy jump scares and eerie faces in the shadows cannot be relied upon. Every movement in this movie felt choreographed to be just on the far edge of uncanny. The fact that everyone stopped moving entirely when the new bloods showed up and initially spoke to the elders, and no one noticed in the film; the glimpse of someone's face that was contorted in a grimace or wail while the rest of the cast was smiling or beaming beatifically into the sunlight. It was all deeply unsettling because you kept *just* noticing things that were off, and then it would be gone. The audience was truly treated as a new blood up until the finale, with one foreground smirk directly at the camera, inviting you into the scene. So many tiny details that made you as afraid of the overexposed brightness and stark contrasts as people usually are of dark corners and deep shadows.
Special hat tip to the scene where Dani starts having a panic attack while tripping on shrooms and she ducks into the shed and we get the flash of a bound and gagged woman in the mirror. I need to re-watch this movie simply for that scene because it happened so fast, but is almost indelibly burnt into my brain and I have no idea who the woman was or what that scene signified.
Hell yeah, Ari Aster.