Midsommar ★★★★

I normally see movies during the daytime, the more affordable matinee option. So a Tuesday night release was cool because it was the first time I saw a "first showing" in some time. (I normally work Friday nights.) The screening was sold out at the Los Feliz 3, the seats were packed with people EXCITED to see Midsommar. (A woman sitting in front of me had a flower headdress on.) When the lights came on at the end, there was a palatable uncertainty: Did we see a GREAT film?

I wager we did. I was a big fan of Hereditary and the parallels became distracting. I now realize, this was a conscious decision, but while watching it was distracting, I began to think about Hereditary and these commonalities rather than just "enjoying" Midsommar. Without being spoiler-y, both have a rather depressing big plot point that results in a woman hysterically scream crying. Emotions are the driving force of these films, with Hereditary there was an emphasis on family, here it's on relationships (both friend and romantic.) The care to ground these films up top is what really pushes them into such memorable territory. It's not that they're scary or disturbing, it's how Ari Aster lulls us in before flooding the screen with horrific gloom.

(I'm not sure where Aster stands on drugs, but I do think it's funny that film has such a reputation for romanticizing drug use, and with Hereditary and Midsommar, drugs are a gateway into Hell.)

Even before we get into full on The Wicker Man homage, the shaky relationship between leads Dani Ardor (Florence Pugh) and boyfriend Christian Hughes (Jack Reynor) is enthralling. I could've watched an entire film of their breakup or get together, whichever direction it would go into. The humor brightens the sordid settings (lots of grays and general murkiness) like flowers. (Yeah? I think that's okay.) While this levity might've felt forced in Hereditary or just tonally off, it works well here because of how it's introduced, through the characters themselves.

My biggest complaint was how the movie finishes. With fifteen minutes or so remaining, I felt like everything hit the ceiling. And from there on forward we witnessed a plateau. I know how much Hereditary gets criticized for its ending, but I would much rather end on something so big than the cruise control third act of Midsommar.

I could go on and on about what I liked here, but even so, I still don't feel totally confident in a full on adoration of Midsommar.

OH! The sound design was incredible. The Haxan Cloak definitely picked up on what Colin Stetson laid down with Hereditary and continued a perfect score. I loved everything sound related in both films. The visuals were really cool, especially when we saw things getting psychedelic.

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