An unrelated follow up to his highly acclaimed (and MoshFish highly recommended) horror film Hereditary is Ari Aster’s 2019 psychological horror/thriller/something Midsommar. After a horrible family tragedy, Dani (Florence Pugh, Fighting with My Family) and her boyfriend Christian (Jack Reynor) head to Sweden, at the request of their exchange student friend Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren), along with the immature, sex-obsessed Mark (Will Poulter) and academic Josh (William Jackson Harper, The Good Place‘s Chidi). In the middle of the summer solstice, the friends observe a once-every-90-years ritual performed by Pelle and his family.
+ fantastic acting by Pugh, including some of the most heart-wrenching wails you’ll ever hear (par for the course for an Aster film). I’m a fan of Harper in The Good Place, and it was nice to see a less-Chidi version of Chidi, if that makes any sense. By the end of the movie, you’ll have your own thoughts on everyone, and whether they deserve their ultimate fates, good or bad,
+ the camera direction is intentionally nauseating at times, and it creates a real sense of impending dread. Not since something like Foxcatcher has a film been so captivating, but at the same time so unnerving that I almost didn’t want to put the characters through whatever was to come next
+ the movie is just beautiful, with the endless daylight providing the most serene, dreamlike atmosphere for the events to take place. The white robes of the villagers, the gorgeous landscapes and various Nordic structures make for somewhere closer to an ideal holiday destination than horror movie set
+ everything in regards to the soundtrack, both score, songs and background noises are really well done. The shifts between silence, or at least soothing ambience, and mundane but sudden noises act less as jump scares and more as indicators that the real horror is about to begin
– the movie is long, which will be a turn off for many. I strongly suggest giving it a chance, as will be the ultimate recommendation below, but you will really need to pay attention to get the full effect of the film
Should you see this film: Absolutely. In the same vein as The Witch, or Ari Aster’s other feature film Hereditary, this is a relatively slow-burner, and more atmospheric than most modern horror, but I loved it. Pugh is on a string of good films, for me (Malevolent, Outlaw King, Fighting with My Family, Misdommar) and may be joining someone like Anya Taylor-Joy as actresses to watch.