By Troy Hasselman, July 18 2019 —
Director Ari Aster’s follow up to last year’s psychological-horror masterpiece Hereditary, is another film from the wonderkid director that explores themes of grief, trauma and loss. Midsommar takes a different, more sprawling approach to exploring these themes than its predecessor acting at once as horror, a breakup film, dark-pastoral comedy and psychedelic-drama.
The plot centers on Dani, played by Florence Pugh, and her crumbling relationship with her emotionally distant boyfriend Christian, played by Jack Reynor. Following the sudden death of her family, a grieving Dani goes along with Christian and his friends on a trip to a commune in northern Sweden that Christian’s friend Pelle was raised on. The idyllic atmosphere of the commune quickly reveals itself to be hiding something far more sinister.
The horror and eerie atmosphere of the film is accentuated by it’s beautiful cinematography and bright, pastel colour palette that clashes spectacularly with it’s pitch black themes and subject matter. It is paced remarkably and manages to slowly build it’s tension while remaining engaging and wholly justifies its two-and-a-half-hour running time. The performances are incredible with Pugh standing out as a mesmerizing lead that impeccably captures her character’s grief and trauma. Midsommar is a virtuosic performance in filmmaking running from it’s direction, to it’s acting, to its pacing.
However, amidst the undeniably great filmmaking, Midsommar can feel muddled at times. While the movies’ tension does build continually the comedic and psychedelic moments in the film bog down this building tension and can lead to a confusing viewing experience that can at times lead you to wonder what kind of film Midsommar wants to be.
Confusion is ultimately how I would describe my reaction to the film. At the end of Midsommar I felt a mixture of awe at how expertly constructed the movie is while also feeling dazed, unnerved, disturbed and unsure of what I had just seen. Midsommar is a fantastic piece of filmmaking but I am unsure if it’s a good movie.