Dir. Ari Aster
Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)
“Yeah, it’s sort of a crazy festival. It only happens every ninety years. Special ceremonies and drinking and dressing up.”
Here’s a very different tale of trauma and terror. Director Ari ‘Hereditary’ Aster is back on a mission to put the ‘cult’ in ‘cult classic’. Midsommar sees a young couple and their pals travel to Sweden to visit a fabled mid-summer festival. What begins as an idyllic retreat quickly devolves into an increasingly violent and bizarre series of events.
Not at all your average horror film – this doesn’t deal in jump scares, it is a slow burn tale that amps up existential dread as the level of peril rises.
"what's the worst that could happen?"
Florence ‘Lady Macbeth’ Pugh is incredible in the lead as Dani, she provides the beating heart for the film and keeps the audience emotionally invested when things get nasty (and they really do). The rest of the cast are good too including dodgy boyfriend Christian (Jack Reynor), his nihilistic pal Mark (Will Poulter) and creepy Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren) who is the one who invites them to the ceremonial solstice celebration.
The cinematography is stunning mixing the intensely graphic gore and disturbingly grotesque scenes with wonder-inducing sun filled Swedish scenery evoking a floral, weirdly beautiful nightmare world.
Aster’s direction and attention to detail are excellent – little touches can make a potentially ‘normal’ situation immediately eerie. It might be a long film, but you can’t look away for a moment. The script and character development bring deep psychological undercurrents and it pays more than surface level reverence to issues including grief, loss and trust.
"Audience screening reactions were mixed"
The horror elements are balanced with some really funny scenes which work as safety values when as the tension gets dangerously high. This certainly won’t be for everyone, it has a deeply nasty core, violent scenes, the weirdest sex scene of recent years and many disturbing themes. Think carefully and pack a very open mind if you want to test yourself with this sun-drenched nightmare.
As the friends find themselves in increasingly traumatic situations (some of which are likely to stay with you long after the credits roll) the audience I watched this with were noticeably unnerved - quite a number of people walked out of the screening.
The moral of the story is probably to beware wacky named religious groups who claim to want to bring you peace.
For a mind-stretching freakout, there’s nothing quite like Midsommar.
Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:
(4 - Slow escalating sun-drenched dread is served)
Awesomeness öööö – Scenes that will burn into your mind
Laughs ööö – Really funny/weird in places
Horror öööö – Gruesome
Spiritual Enlightenment ö - Not your average religious festival