Midsommar. Midsommar, Midsommar. Woo-boy, I’ve chosen quite the film to break in my new 5-Minute Movie Review series! 😱😱😱
My Personal Tagline
Dani and Christian are a young American couple with a relationship on the brink of falling apart. But after a family tragedy keeps them together, a grieving Dani invites herself to join Christian and his friends on a trip to a once-in-a-lifetime midsummer festival in a remote Swedish village. What begins as a carefree summer holiday in a land of eternal sunlight takes a sinister turn when the insular villagers invite their guests to partake in festivities that render the pastoral paradise increasingly unnerving and viscerally disturbing. From the visionary mind of Ari Aster comes a dread-soaked cinematic fairytale where a world of darkness unfolds in broad daylight.
If You Liked, You Will Like
As a huge fan of The VVitch, and The Wickerman (1973 director’s cut FTW!), I’ve come to the realization that I am drawn to slow-burn folk horror, and Midsommar delivered quite the burn. 🐻🔥 <–Anyone who’s seen the film will understand that emoji duo.
As I felt myself descending into the WTF spiral unfolding around me, I was loving the movie for feeling like a Werner Herzog film, and hating it for feeling like a Lars von Trier film. (I hate-watch Lars. He’s a mad genius, and I love what he does visually, but I loathe how his work makes me feel). So as a pull quote, I would say, “Midsommar is like watching the love child of Werner Herzog and Lars von Trier.” If that sounds appealing, add it to your watch list now – you will love this mad little flower.
@MidsommarMovie is like watching the love child of Werner Herzog and Lars von Trier. If that sounds appealing, add it to your watch list now – you will love this mad little flower. Tweet the Magic!
A Psychological Disemboweling
The creeping death of Midsommar is profound. You cannot look away. You’ve been dosed by the most tainted of hallucinogenics, and you’re never getting out of there, internally or externally. And you’ll still be thinking about the trip days later – as I am. Thinking about it so much, you’ve gotta write about it or talk about it with someone – to everyone, as I’m doing here on my blog – to exorcise the Swedish death demons who now own you. Love it or hate it, you can’t deny that this is brilliant fucking horror film-making.
Plot, Characters & Lore
Midsommar is both hotly intimate, and coldly aloof – much like the central couple and relationship. It’s the bad psychedelic trip of dealing with a horrendously surreal tragedy, and trying – in vain – to escape it. As director Ari Aster himself has said on his Reddit AMA and in interviews, the movie is also “an apocalyptic breakup film.” Fuck yeah it is. You watch as the central protagonist comes to terms with not only her own grief, but the realization that the only person she has left in the entire world is toxic AF – and there isn’t much she can do to escape it, because they’re both trapped in a far away place, and she is now more desperately alone than ever with him by her side. Enter the Deus ex Machina – a Swedish Heathen cult – to the rescue? Maybe. You’ll have to decide from that ambiguously creepy ending if it was indeed a rescue. (In my eternally optimistic and warped brain, I kinda believe it was).
Ari Aster also confirmed some of my own questions about the movie in his Reddit AMA. Mostly that yes, everything depicted is pulled directly from real Swedish traditions, customs and folklore. As one who’s obsessed with Vikings, I personally recognized something from their history that’s particularly brutal: a blood eagle. I don’t know that everyone watching the film has the luxury of knowing what that is, but I sure did. And it was the most ethereally beautiful depiction of such brutality that one will likely ever see. And by “beautiful,” I do mean fucked up. You can pretty much decorate anything with flowers, let’s just put it that way.
Had I watched Midsommar six years ago while in the midst of a divorce, starting over at age forty-one, and seriously questioning my life… well, I don’t want to say it would have sent me directly over the edge into suicidal ideation, but let’s just say… my emotional constitution couldn’t have handled this movie, full stop. Now that I’m well out of that grief, I have to say, Ari Aster knows how to depict grief with visceral clarity. He knows grief the way Lars von Trier knows anxiety and depression – and it could really, very well trigger you into experiencing physical symptoms. As Dani’s guttural, soul-shattering sobs wrack her entire body in the cold open, I nearly felt like I couldn’t continue watching. But continue, I did, and now here I am, writing this review to purge it out of my soul.
Magic Meter: 85% 🌟🦄
Would I recommend Midsommar? Yes and no. It’s a gorgeous, dangerous work of art meant for cinephiles and hardcore horror connoisseurs. But it’s not the kind of horror movie for the pop culture masses. It’s kinda like recommending Guinness to a light beer drinker: it ain’t gonna go over very well. If you love folksy, dark pagan horror, delving into the deepest aspects of your psychological Shadows, and mysteries that make you question everything you just saw well after the end credit roll, then this movie is for you.
Finally, I do have to say, I definitely want to check out more of Aster’s work. Hereditary, here I come! Watch this space for that review soon… (lord help me).