Midsommar ★★★★★

Probably my favorite movie that I've seen yet this year, MIDSOMMAR is one hell of a follow-up to HEREDITARY, which cements Ari Aster as easily one of the most exciting new voices in horror cinema (at the moment, he says none of the NINE(!) other movies he has planned are horror...but he promises they all still share his dark sensibilities, so I wouldn't be surprised if some of them still sorta fit in the category anyway). Last year, HEREDITARY was the rare horror film that actually got under my skin and made me feel unnerved while watching it. There are sequences that do so again here...not just the moments of shocking, brutal gore, but also some rather heavy emotional beats. Between HEREDITARY and this, it's becoming clear that Aster isn't messing around when it comes to depicting the power of grief onscreen. That said, this is also a much more darkly COMEDIC film than HEREDITARY (I've seen some say this works better as dark-comedy than it does pure horror...I wouldn't put up too much of an argument against that notion, but I also think it does BOTH very well), and I think the humor is absolutely important and even crucial, in order to fully create an odd tone that helps the audience feel just as unmoored as the characters do at times. Aster's shot compositions and mastery of mood are, simply put, something special, and just like with Toni Collette in HEREDITARY, he once again gets a fantastic performance from his leading lady. I wasn't super familiar with Florence Pugh heading into this one, but she's incredible here - if the rumors about her very important role moving forward in the MCU are true, consider me very excited.

Anyway, this is, for me, at least, pretty much a perfect movie. That won't be the case for EVERYONE, and - in fact - I'm not sure I can even confidently say that it's surely a "better movie" than HEREDITARY. But it IS more in tune with the sort of horror sub-genres that I personally enjoy, so this one worked more for me. Sure, if you're familiar with folk horror and the particular films that very clearly influenced this one, it might not hold too many surprises in terms of the general plot structure. But that didn't really bother me, as the overall journey to the end is so well-crafted. I'm gonna be thinking about this one for quite awhile, and I eagerly await Aster's next film, whatever genre it might technically fit into.