Victor Dubyna’s review published on Letterboxd:
Ari Aster returns with another evil, slow-burn mind-fuck, and like Hereditary, there is a ton to admire and he showcases so much potential. I think this guy is bound to make some masterpieces in the future, as there is so much that he does so incredibly well. The cinematography is pretty stunning. It has a pretty fantastical vibe throughout, achieved through, what looks like to me, a wide aperture and overexposure. It creates a very bright, colourful and hazy quality and it works really well and has a distinct visual look that compliments the contents of the mise-en-scene very beautifully and magically. There are some really well coordinated long take tracking shots, and some superb compositions and camera angles making really ritualistically patterned images to admire. There is an overhead shot of a car driving and I absolutely love what the camera does in this shot, as it is very effectively eerie. The production design is very colourful, creative and detailed, as Aster creates his own little cohesive world of flowers, eerie drawings/symbols, creative costumes and buildings etc. There are some pretty good performances, specifically from Florence Pugh who has some really intense, anxiety-ridden moments that are pretty freaky and disturbing. Its not Toni Collette in Hereditary level, but an effective and impressive performance nonetheless. The themes of relationships were handled well and effectively, and I have a feeling that there is a lot being communicated metaphorically through the horror that I haven’t picked up on yet and will have to read up on. The film gets pretty entertainingly fucked up near the end with some very creatively bizarre and surreal sequences that I won’t even talk about vaguely so I won’t spoil. Some really great imagery though, complimented through great cinematography and editing. The score is also fantastic, especially the piece at the ending of the film, which is at once incredibly powerful, epic, beautiful and unsettling. There is a moment of good commentary on culture and how different cultures can appear to be evil or wrong, but there isn’t really any objective truth to the evilness of them, only that we are disturbed by it because it is radically different from what we are familiar with.
For me, the slow-burn can be a little too slow at times. There were quite a few moments where the great initial suspense and intrigue built through the slow-burn just lost its effect and I was just kind of waiting for something nutty to happen. Ari Aster just took it a little too slow at times for me personally. The film does satisfy by the ending with some pretty nutty sequences, as I said earlier, however with this slow of a burn, I was a little bit disappointed as I was expecting it to get a little bit crazier by the end of the film. There are some satisfyingly crazy sequences near the end, but with all the slow-burn, I only just wish it was a little more and hit me a bit harder. Not only that but one of its attempts at getting surreal and crazy was, in my opinion, trying a bit too hard and just kind of silly instead of of having any weight or effect, or being effectively and disturbingly weird. Also, there is an effect that occurs pretty frequently and is pretty prominent that I have mixed feelings on. At times it was subtle enough to be effective, but at other times it was a little too overdone in a way that looked kind of goofy and amateur in my opinion. Another thing that I don’t know if I should even count as a critique, and I’ll explain why in a second, is that I didn’t find it that funny. I have read from many people that they think it is really successfully funny but I didn’t get that at all, personally. The film isn’t listed as a comedy under its genres though, so I don’t think I will factor that into my rating, despite catching a few unsuccessful, for me, attempts at jokes.
Overall, another impressive work from Ari Aster. I wanted a littleee more, and the slow-burn was a little drawn out for me personally, but I can’t not admire the things Ari Aster does so well. There is a lot to love here, and while I have a few complaints, I am still very very pleased and honestly liked it more than I was expecting. He is proving to be quite a great horror auteur and I really look forward to what he does next.