Midsommar was a film I had huge reservations about watching. I was not a fan of Hereditary, by the same writer/ director Ari Aster. I didn’t hate Hereditary but it came with so much hype and I was expecting something completely different to what it was. The years may be kinder to it if or when I return. What is clear having seen both films is that Aster has an preoccupation with grief, and he weaves that into his horror.
Grief provides perhaps Midsommar’s most brilliant and scary scene. It happens very close to the start and it really embeds the film’s purpose, smashes home the type of horror you’re in for. I watched the Director’s Cut, which given I haven’t seen the theatrical I can’t compare to anything, so please bear that in mind. The Director’s Cut is twenty minutes shy of three hours. Which is bloody long. Or am I getting old?
A group of annoying men are joined by one's girlfriend, invited out of guilt, on their “anthropology” trip to Sweden. It’s a lads on tour (in their heads) which has been ruined by the ball and chain tagging along. You don’t need me to tell you all the men are dickheads. But they are. All of them. Pure dickheads. They arrive in the Swedish paradise and are immediately seduced.
As the American tourists get more and more involved with what is a creepy group of locals right from the off, I couldn’t help but admire how Midsommar adheres to horror tropes without making it obvious. There’s no secret that everything will get a bit tasty, people will make stupid decisions, and there will be bodies; Midsommar manages to make it all feel fresh. This entrancing sect slowly adheres to the visitors, and it works on you, too.
The mystery tied me up completely, even if you realistically know this is all going to go south in a very gruesome way, it is fun to watch. I loved the fact that the horror doesn’t hide in darkness, it lures you in with its beauty, gives you a drink and a meal while smiling in your face. Having put Midsommar on expecting to be bored, I was instead gripped*.
I’d call Midsommar twisted, but I’ve seen Mum & Dad. Though it does have an eerie awfulness at its core, rather than all out nasty, Midsommar is insidious, an emotional bully. Once you get over that its horror doesn’t have to be what you think might be, the reality sinks in. Midsommar gets under your skin and writhes with sumptuous sickness. 8/10
*Unlike Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which had me bored to tears in an hour so I turned it off. If Quentin Tarantino could get away with a three hour film of him sucking himself off, he’d do it. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is on the La La Land Award shortlist.