A Bright & Oversaturated yet Uneasy Melodramatic Horror Film
After his terrifying feature-length directorial debut 'Hereditary', director Ari Aster returns with his sophomore feature 'Midsommar' and proves that even horror can work in bright, oversaturated and wide-open settings.
The movie follows couple Dani and Christian as they travel to Sweden to visit one of their friend's rural hometown for its fabled midsummer festival. But the true colours of the locals start to come out as their practices grow increasingly weirder and more abnormal.
This movie is sure to be a divisive one. The way it explores its themes and expands the lore is very disturbing at points. It also is not a traditional horror film. Do not go into 'Midsommar' expecting something like a slasher. It is an arthouse melodrama that reaches its emotional peaks with moments of horror. Some may find it too boring, slow or stylised but those who like Aster's previous work or are willing to see an original yet inspired take on cult movies will most likely "enjoy" this unsettling movie.
Although the movie's opening sequences are dimly lit, establishing the dark mood and tone of those scenes, the majority of the 147-minute runtime is spent in a colour-drenched, forest surrounded section of grassland in Sweden. While it is unusual for a movie like this to be set in broad daylight, Aster is still able to make the movie unnerving.
There are several scenes in which you will be creeped out, either due to the horrific events that take place on-screen or the in-movie reactions to said events.
Strangely enough, the movie can be funny. Numerous scenes and moments push this into "dark comedy" territory, but this is a far cry from a hilarious movie.
Just like how 'Hereditary' gave us one of Toni Collette’s best performances, a performance that was unfortunately snubbed at the Oscars. 'Midsommar' does the same for Florence Pugh. She continues the trend of incredible performances, and if it were not for how great she is as protagonist Dani, the movie would not work nearly as well as it does. Pugh is not the only one who gives a good performance, there is not a weak link in the limited supporting cast. Jack Reynor plays Christian, Dani's boyfriend, with a sense of unlikability. Will Pouter is perfect as the scene-stealing, unapologetically douchy Mark. Both William Jackson Harper and Vilhelm Blomgren respectively deliver satisfactory performances as Christian's friends, Josh and Pelle.
'Midsommar' is one of the most carefully constructed films out there. Every shot and cut feels motivated and purposeful. Rarely does it rapidly switch between shots. Instead, it meditates on what is being shown on-screen, slowly building up the tension until it explodes into a cathartic and horrifying ending that will not soon be forgotten.
The beauty of Ari Aster's nuanced screenplay is that each viewing can be unique. Either if it is watched with a different context or with different people. On the first watch, it will be most likely viewed on face value. On the second watch, you could notice all the many hidden details and foreshadowing shown throughout. Viewed with friends will be a completely different experience compared to watching it with your significant other. All the layers give this movie a big rewatchable factor.
Standing at two-hours and twenty-seven-minutes, 'Midsommar' is an excellent slow-burn melodramatic horror film that will stay with you days after you have seen it.