Midsommar is a 2019 horror movie directed by Ari Aster, the twisted genius also behind Hereditary.
There is a lot of buzz in the horror genre for the past couple of years. Mostly it’s everyone talking about how awesome Jordan Peele’s horror movies are, but I think the real horror master is hiding in plain sight. Peele has had back to back horror hits with Get Out in 2017 then Us in 2019. Both got a ton of critical appeal, but I personally liked Us better. I felt that it was more true horror and less social justice statement. That means Us was a better horror movie, but Get Out was a better overall movie.
But the real highlight of the horror genre should really go to Ari Aster with his back to back horror films Hereditary in 2018 then Midsommar in 2019.
Just like Us was plastered with hidden meaning, Hereditary and Midsommar were as well, but to a greater degree.
This review is about Midsommar though, so I’ll start sticking to that one.
The film starts out with the main girl in the movie Dani, played by Florence Pugh, trying to get in touch with her sister after an unsettling email from her. She is calling her boyfriend complaining about family drama, then calling her friend worried she might be running off her boyfriend Christian, played by Jack Reynor, because of said drama. Pretty much as soon as she hangs up, she gets a call that her sister had committed suicide after killing their parents.
Fast forward a couple of days and Dani and Christian go to a party where he tells her and his friends that he is excited to go to Sweden. She’s upset for him not telling her beforehand, but he pretends like he did. He then invites her to Sweden with him and his friends Josh (William Jackson Harper), Mark (Will Poultier), and Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren).
In Sweden, Josh is working on his Ph.D. thesis on midsommar and the associated celebrations. Christian decided to do the same but specifically focusing on Pelle’s community that he is from. Pelle invited them all there and gave zero warning to what they were about to witness. It begins with a very odd ritual of having a meal, but escalates quickly when the two oldest members of the community commit suicide by jumping off a cliff.
I’m going to stop with the story description now because I feel like if I give any more information it would ruin the movie.
Let’s just leave it at the movie gets crazier from there with commune life and crazy rituals.
I don’t know how Ari Aster does it, but he does it well.
Where Hereditary was dark and creepy because of the shadows, Midsommar is absolutely terrifying because of the exact opposite occurring through the whole thing. Instead of anything happening in the dark, it is bright and sunny pretty much the whole film. There’s a lot of light and everything has a weird glowing effect that is just unnatural and makes everything a little creepier.
The cultish feel of the commune mixed with the lack of modern aesthetics makes for the whole thing to just be weird. Plus, just like with Hereditary, there are a ton of symbols hidden throughout the film that kind of give away the ending, but you have to either be a symbologist (not a real job despite what Dan Brown says) or already entrenched in the culture.
The most unsettling thing is that all the rituals are totally normal to those in the cult. In the same way, a person outside of any religion would be a little confused at the rituals of any organized religion.