[Review] Midsommar 2019
Midsommar – 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 fairy-tale where a world of darkness unfolds in broad daylight.
Aster is a genius at exploiting our beliefs and bringing out the most noxious details of the mind. He presented this fully with massive savagery, fear, and dread in Hereditary. We should all be thankful that he shows a little more sympathy as he brings out the ugliness and selfish nature of humanity with the likes of Midsommar. As horror goes, Midsommar is much less effective than Hereditary, which admittedly stayed in my mind for a long time. What Midsommar has in common with last year’s “Hereditary” is that both are thoughtful yet very painful meditations on the nature of human grief.
Midsommar opens with a traumatized Dani Ardor (Florence Pugh) after learning that her sister Terri commits suicide after killing both of their parents by filling their home with carbon monoxide. The incident further burdens Dani’s relationship with her emotionally distant boyfriend, Christian (Christian Hughes), an anthropology graduate student. Christian was about to break it off with Dani before the tragedy struck and he’s been waiting for a convenient time to deliver news that he’s leaving, choosing to postpone the breakup until Dani begins to recover from the trauma.
Later, Dani inadvertently learns that Christian and his friends, Mark and Josh, have been invited by their Swedish friend, Pelle, to attend a midsummer celebration at Pelle’s ancestral commune, the Hårga, in Hälsingland, and that they are all planning to travel to his commune in northern Sweden. Pelle explains that this is a fertility ritual and the iteration of the celebration only occurs every ninety years. Christian had not told Dani about the trip, and the two begin to argue. They explain that it’s literally a once-in-a-lifetime sociological event. In an attempt to bond with her increasingly remote mate, Dani convinces Christian into inviting her, and in an attempt to patch things up, Christian reluctantly invites Dani to come along.
After arriving at the settlement, the group is welcomed and accepted into the company of the locals. They end up meeting other newcomers while there, Simon and Connie, an English couple invited by Pelle’s communal brother Ingemar, who offers the group psilocybin, a psychedelic drug that is produced by over species of psilocybin mushrooms. Dani ends up tripping and having hallucinations about her sister Terri, which was actually a trip in itself to watch.
As the days pass and the group becomes more familiar to the commune’s customs, it becomes more apparent that they’ve delivered themselves into the hands of a creepy pagan cult, and are about to be thrown into a religious ceremony which embraces ritual suicide, incest, mutilation, and human sacrifice. Everything seems unreal and creepy, even all those slanted buildings the people use.
Each building seems to have its own character, where every wall has a story to tell. The buildings are filled with ornately crafted drawings, runes, symbols and tons of mystery. I will need to pause the showing of the walls when I get this on DVD so have a closer look at all of them. They are truly amazing, yet bizarre.
The cinematography in this film is breath-taking, absolutely stunning, the art is very bizarre, the entire story is very much like a modern-day folktale. Most of the rituals are shocking with much gore, but they have a purpose in that society. It’s a slow-build horror film, with a beautiful yet dreadful atmosphere. Midsommar is well shot, well-acted, well-executed, a modern masterpiece that is as gruesome as it is at times oddly humorous. This is a film that will not only shock the viewer but stay with them for a long time. Highly recommended!
Release Date: July 3, 2019
Runtime: 2 hours, 27 minutes
Genre: Horror, Thriller, Drama
Studio: A24 Productions
Starring: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, Vilhelm Blomgren
MPAA Rated: R
Director(s): Ari Aster
Reviewed by: Chad Bartlett
Our Rating: 3.6 /5
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