Horror director Ari Aster returns to the horror genre in Midsommar from A24. Dani Ardor (Florence Pugh) is recovering from the murder-suicide of her young sister and her parents. Sadly, the incident puts a damper on Dani’s blooming relationship with her boyfriend Christian (Jack Reynor).
After having another fight, Christian invites Dani on a guy’s trip he is taking to Sweden with his buddies Josh (William Jackson Harper), Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren), and Mark (Will Poulter). The purpose of the trip is to attend a celebration in Pelle’s town that takes place every ninety years. However, once the group arrives, they encounter a terror that they never expected.
One of the things I must first point out, Midsommar is not a mainstream horror film. If you’re expecting jump scares or plot points given to you quickly, then Midsommar is a film you may not like. While the pacing of Midsommar is similar to Hereditary, Aster’s previous directorial effort, the tone of Midsommar is identical to The Wicker Man.
Aster’s decision to open his script with the death of Dani’s family allows the audience to sympathize with Dani immediately. Florence Pugh gives Dani a nuanced performance that, in my opinion, is award-worthy. Every time she cried on screen, I felt her pain, and in a lesser actress’s hands, the performance wouldn’t have worked. Pugh fully carries the film and is one to watch.
Sadly this sentiment doesn’t hold for Jack Reynor as Christian. Outside of his performance in Detroit, Reynor’s acting method and style aren’t that impressive, in my opinion. His line delivery is monotone, and he seems to only get roles due to his pretty-boy looks. I would’ve preferred to see Will Poulter in the male lead role, as he would’ve done more with the material. Our other two supporting characters Josh (William Jackson Harper) and Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren), are decent enough, despite being horror movie character caricatures.
While Midsommar doesn’t rely on the traditional scare moments, the film does have its share of gore. One moment in particular, which I will not spoil, has no sound in the scene. Pawel Pgorzelski’s cinematography in this scene is one of the creepiest moments on screen thus far in 2019. Pgorzelski’s also provided some impressive shots of the countryside, which I’d never seen done in the manner he chose.
Exiting the theater, I heard compliments from the audience about the film’s pacing or that they had no idea what they just watched. I feel that this was Aster’s intent. As human beings, we all have different views on religions and our emotions. Was the purpose to show when you’re in a relationship, you support your partner no matter what? Or maybe the intent was to let go of someone who relies on your emotional dependence. Midsommar asks both of these questions, and in the end, it forces the viewer to come up with the answers.
With a 2 ½ hour running time, Midsommar isn’t for all tastes. However, for those who like their horror films with metaphors and symbolism, I highly recommend it.
Final Grade B +