This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Zack Heisey’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Ok, here we go. Overall I liked this. It quite literally kept me up last night thinking about it. It is so profoundly upsetting and horrific that I had a hard time figuring out how I felt about it.
Obviously it’s very well-made. It’s shot exquisitely, the score invoked a palpable sense of dread just like Hereditary, and the sound design is also pretty well done. The tone and overbearing feeling like you’re on a very bad LSD trip is nausiating - in a good way. I also really appreciated Aster’s continued reflections on grief, this time on shared grief and support systems and surrogate families. The way he’s able to capture mourning, especially the traumatic, screaming-in-pain early stages of it is harrowing and upsetting. It’s also really, really funny in some very fucked up ways. Will Poulter had some excellent lines that I wish were out there so that I could quote them in this review.
I’m split on the thematics. Dani being embraced by this community and finally having that support system and empathy for her immense grief was beautiful, and yet I feel like it may come at the expense of her humanity. She becomes fully emerged and assimilated into this cult (even though I feel that word is almost reductive to what that community was) and she smiles as Christian burns by her choice. So her old life is gone completely and she is reborn into a family that will support her. But has she snapped? Is she still under the influence of those drugs? Will the community continue to drug her? What happens when she comes down and maybe wants to leave? Will the families of the deceased try to contact her? Was Christian under the influence and raped, or was he in control of his actions? I feel like that changes a lot the context of the ending, and then he was paralyzed and couldn’t talk which changes things even more. I don’t consider having unanswered questions a bad thing, but the ones I have seem like a result of a lack of narrative tightness. There is a lot going on and it seemed like it became unwieldy for Aster. I don’t think any horror film should be longer than 1hr 45min, and this one was 2hr 20min so that should tell you a lot.
Hereditary changed my life, Midsommar did not. But that’s ok! I still enjoyed a lot of it and I thought Florence Pugh absolutely nailed her role. I’m very excited that she seems to have a bright future ahead of her. And I still am a huge fan of Ari Aster and I can’t wait to see what he does next, I just hope he branches out to do something a little different.
I feel compelled to go see this again, especially to get another look at that tapestry, but I also don’t want to because holy shit.