I’m not too sure why I didn’t review “Midsommar” back in 2019. Maybe I was just too busy, but suffice to say it made my top ten of 2019, easily. Ari Aster is a man who has managed to really delve deep in to some truly bizarre horror, and “Midsommar” is a pitch perfect example. Aster’s film is always placed in the same vein as “The Wicker Man,” but while it certainly can be appreciated with the aforementioned, “Midsommar” is its own twisted animal.
Dani (Florence Pugh) and Christian (Jack Reynor) 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 countryside paradise increasingly unnerving and disturbing.
There’s so much to unpack about “Midsommar” that it’s almost impossible to pinpoint it all. Along with creating an unnerving and horrific tale about family, cults, grief, director Aster peppers so many Easter eggs within his cinematic realm. I often enjoy visiting articles that point out the vast laundry list of hidden details Aster inserts for his audience, because it’s almost endless. Every corner of the movie unveils a new detail that adds dimension to an already complex and terrifying movie.
Florence Pugh is a brilliant actress who really stormed out from the gates in 2019, and Ari Aster plays to her strengths in “Midsommar.” As Dani, she’s a very complicated individual overcome with grief and has been swallowed whole by her sadness, to the detriment of a fulfilling life. Ari Aster is a man who is capable of creating immense dread, and he proves he can do as much with the daylight and bright colors as he did with the darkness in “Hereditary.”
With the aforementioned, the challenge is for the audience to uncover the hidden details, but Ari Aster poses a challenge for himself as a director. Is it possible to create a successfully creepy, bizarre horror movie that’s set in the beaming daylight? Aster seemingly pushes so many pastels and imagery usually associated with joy, and injects so much inherent terror within every seam. Every moment within “Midsommar” relies on director Aster slowly, but surely, turning the screws on the audience.
Aster seems to have an interest in cults, and much like “Hereditary,” there’s the back drop of fate, pre-destination, and an otherworldly puppet master. And once we see it realized to its full capacity, Aster is able to concoct an image that’s both mesmerizing, and yet absolutely twisted.
Director Aster’s visual prowess thankfully doesn’t overpower Pugh’s immense performance, though, as she’s able to help to bring this multi layered character to life. Dani is a woman stuck in a dead end (and a dead end relationship wrought with obligation), and without knowing, she begins to be slowly pulled out of it and indoctrinated in to a whole new atmosphere. There’s a sheer sense of unraveling within every moment of “Midsommar” and Ari Aster delights in doing everything he can to make the journey as grotesque as humanly possible through and through.
Whether or not you’re in to what Ari Aster can accomplish with the horror genre, “Midsommar” is a visceral, memorable experience that’ll be analyzed by film buffs for years. It’s both beautifully morbid and morbidly beautiful. I promise you won’t forget the climax any time soon.