Midsommar movie review - Aussieboyreviews
IS MIDSOMMAR TOO DISTURBING AND SHOCKING FOR THE FAINT OF HEART?
Ari Aster’s masterful psychological horror film about a Swedish festival is traumatic, shocking, disturbing, explicit and extreme. Midsommar is memorable for its content, as well as the gorgeous cinematography and an unforgettable performance.
A couple struggling to cope with their strained relationship after a family tragedy travel to their friend’s hometown for a Swedish mid-summer festival. But what begins as a peaceful retreat soon turns into an increasingly sinister and violent competition set by the hands of a pagan cult.
Director: Ari Aster
Cast: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, Vilhelm Blomgren, William Jackson Harper, Will Poulter, Archie Madekwe, Ellora Torchia
Writer: Ari Aster
Release Date (Australia): 8 August 2019
Runtime: 2h 28m/148m
Genre: Drama, Horror, Thriller
Country: USA, Sweden
Language: English, Swedish
CONTENT GUIDE (warning: May contain spoilers)
Thematic content includes suicide, murder, disturbing scenes, and multiple ritualistic ceremonies that include two elderly people sacrificing themselves by jumping of a cliff, a man being placed inside a bear that has been cut open, and people being placed inside a burning building.
The film contains graphic depictions of an elderly man’s face being smashed in with a mallet, as well as people and corpses being set on fire. There are also gory depictions of injury detail including severely broken bones, smashed-in faces, and a man who has been sliced open and suspended from a ceiling.
The film contains use of the word “f**k”, in addition to use of the words “s**t”, “d**k”, “damn” and “bitch”.
The film includes a lengthy scene in which characters take magic mushrooms before experiencing side effects from the drug.
The film contains full frontal male and female nudity, as well as buttocks nudity.
The film contains multiple sexual references and a lengthy sequence in which a man engages in sexual intercourse with a young woman as part of a ritualistic mating ceremony, surrounded by nude, chanting women.
R (for disturbing ritualistic violence and grisly images, strong sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and language)
Aussie boy's thoughts
Most of Ari Aster’s Midsommar is set during extended sequences under broad daylight, but the bright hot sun doesn’t prevent the film from being on a completely new level of traumatic, trippy, disturbing and surreal. A24 has distributed some of the most polarising and unique horror films of the 21st century, some of those said movies being The Witch, The Lighthouse and Hereditary. The writer/director of Hereditary returns with a new psychological hidden gem that may be just as, if not more divisive, featuring masterful filmmaking, unbelievably real performances and sequences of extreme gore.
Some will latch onto finding the plot reminiscent of 1973’s The Wicker Man, in which Midsommar centres on a young woman grieving over a family tragedy who accompanies her boyfriend and his friends to a Swedish village for a mid-summer festival. However, it soon becomes apparent that this increasingly disturbing festival is set by the hands of a pagan cult. The film begins with a lengthy opening sequence which sets up the grief aspect and our care for the characters. Without spoilers, this opening scene alone is traumatic, and especially for people who deal with mental health issues, the literal question of whether you’re in the right mental state or not will pass through your head during the long zoom-in shot just before the title card.
Florence Pugh’s performance is almost unreal in this movie, and how Ari Aster directs her as well as the other actors is just brain-numbing to think about. Not only are her scenes of crying and grieving just so unthinkably real, it makes you desperately care for her and it feels like we’re watching a real woman deal with grief and an unhealthy relationship. Her strained relationship with her boyfriend, played brilliantly Jack Reynor, builds another big theme in this movie. William Jackson Harper and Vilhelm Blomgren also form their characters to feel like real living people whose lives are unfolding in front of us. Will Poulter makes a nicely involved character who has several funny lines, but you couldn’t really call him the basic “comic-relief” just because the humour that comes from his character never interrupts with the unsettling tone and the shocking violence of Midsommar.
But the best work is easily of Ari Aster’s direction. It’s not just in the way he works with his actors, but he also does a wonderful job working aside his cinematographer Pawel Pogorzelski (who has taken on the visual aspect in some of the director’s previous films, including Hereditary). Midsommar contains several ritualistic ceremonies and shocking scenes throughout, but the impact is aided by the unsettling fact that the horror is taking place during the day or under the midnight sun. The film’s bright location, the flowers and big dresses, and the violence is captured beautifully through the cinematography; the colour pallet for this movie is nothing short of immaculate! In terms of other technical efforts, the film’s sound design and editing reaches the standards of perfection. Soundtrack is played only when it’s absolutely necessary. People in this Swedish village play instruments, make vocal noises or hum. A breathtaking drug trip sequence that doesn’t take its trippy effects too far occurs. The natural backgrounds of each shot look like they’re breathing. If there’s any issues with it, some of the shots are a little overextended, but this is a truly exceptional masterpiece from Ari Aster.
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