Last year, writer director Ari Aster released his directorial debut – the unnerving, Hereditary. The film was hard going at times, and certainly not to everyone’s tastes, but it was a fantastic piece of film making.
This week, Aster unleashes movie number #2 – Midsommar. Midsommar stars Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor and Will Poulter and follows a group of US students as they attend a folk festival in Sweden, with devastating results.
Is it as weird as Hereditary?
There’s dancing, chanting, sacrifices, and one of the strangest sex scenes in movie history. Imagine a bunch of nudists faking a mass orgasm in a barn and you’re not far off.
OK, so I’ll say this now: If you found Hereditary difficult to watch and a little too strange for your tastes, then you will not like Midsommar. This is an incredibly difficult, unforgiving and uncomfortable movie to watch that will not play well with mainstream audiences.
This is not The Conjuring, The Purge or Halloween. It has vast shades of The Wicker Man, but it’s not even that.
I expect many people will sit through about 20-30 minutes of this movie, before they get up out of their seats and leave the auditorium. This is not because of the horror that lurks within this first section of the movie, or due to blood and guts, but because it is very slow.
If you progress past the first 30 minutes, then you’ll find the rest of the movie is equally as slow. This is intentional – Midsommar is a drawn out picture that plays the long game to get into the audience’s head.
This film got in my head and as I type these words – an hour after leaving the cinema – it’s still in my head. And if you don’t like it, it’s completely understandable.
Over the course of the two-and-a-half hour run-time (yep, it’s a long film), Midsommar worked its way into my mind, ensuring that by the time the credits rolled I was more than ready for air.
This is a claustrophobic film. It’s tense, it’s bizarre and it’s not a picture that wanted me to feel at ease.
When the gore hits – and this film has some gruesome moments – the sequences were sickening, but they were also few and far between. This isn’t a splatter-fest.
What made me feel uneasy was the way the story unfolded. Unlike Hereditary which used misdirection and concealed information to tell its tale, Midsommar is pretty straight forward. What I expected to happen did happen, but because I knew what was coming I was on the edge of my seat waiting for the events to play out.
But this is where Aster got me. He drew me in with long shots, slow pans, and lengthy sequences to increase the tension, all the while allowing me to draw my own conclusions about the purpose of the folk festival.
Every so often he’d let me blow off steam with some new development, but for the most part he simply showed a bunch of cultists doing nothing more than dicking around in a field. It was then up to me to look below the surface to realise this was a movie about grieving, the break down of a relationship, and about an unconventional way of life.
As mentioned above, the film is still playing in my mind. I’m slowly digesting it and I expect I will continue to do so for sometime.
Midsommar is going to make fans and it is also going to piss off a lot of people. While some will love it, others will hate it.
If you liked Hereditary and have a deep desire to see Aster’s follow-up, then check out this movie. However, if you think this will be a fun little horror to enjoy with a huge tub of popcorn, it’s probably best you watch something else.