If anyone was worried that burgeoning horror auteur Ari Aster was going to mellow out after his disturbing debut, you can sleep easy. Aster’s latest (which shares more than a passing resemblance to Hereditary in many ways) is nasty, grisly folk horror at its finest.
Flower crowns are fashioned, maypoles are danced around, and yes, outsiders have a truly, truly horrible time. Welcome to Hälsingland! Midsommar’s idyllic Swedish commune is inhabited by such relentlessly cheery folk that it’d be a bigger surprise to find out they weren’t harbouring a murderous secret.
Florence Pugh, so wonderful in this year’s Fighting With My Family, turns in another incredible performance as Dani, a young woman riddled with grief and anxiety after suffering an unimaginable loss – and pouring four years into a relationship with her increasingly distant boyfriend, Christian (Reynor). If Hereditary was about a family in crisis (plus demons), then Midsommar is a kind of breakup movie (plus killer cults). Pugh and Reynor help ground some of the film’s wackier moments – and there are a lot. It’s the kind of film that seems to prompt more questions than it answers, meaning you’ll probably want to book in a thorough debrief session with pals after the credits have rolled.
Midsommar isn’t Aster’s scariest movie, but it’s undeniably atmospheric. Crucially, it’s also a horror film in the true sense of the word. The visual effects department clearly had an absolute field day on this production, conjuring up some truly revolting creations that will stick with you long after the movie is over.
If you didn’t care for Hereditary’s blend of queasy tension and shocking violence, Midsommar probably isn’t the film to convert you. However, those excited to be confused, shocked, and utterly disgusted all over again should expect to be thoroughly satisfied.
CAST: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, Will Poulter, William Jackson Harper, Vilhelm Blomgren
DIRECTOR: Ari Aster
WRITER: Ari Aster
SYNOPSIS: Following a personal tragedy, a young woman joins her boyfriend and his friends on a trip to an isolated Swedish commune – with bloody results.